Driver swimming in the ocean

Diveheart: Empowering Individuals with Disabilities Through Adaptive Scuba Diving

Asheville, NC – Pioneering Adaptive Diving Initiatives with a Mission to Build Confidence

Diveheart, a leading non-profit organization dedicated to adaptive scuba diving, is making waves in the diving community by empowering individuals with disabilities through the therapeutic power of underwater exploration. Founded by Jim Elliott, a former advertising executive and passionate diver, Diveheart’s mission is to build confidence, independence, and self-esteem in children, veterans, and others with disabilities using zero gravity, adaptive scuba, and scuba therapy.

Unleashing the Transformative Potential of Adaptive Scuba Diving

“In 30 minutes, I can take someone in a wheelchair who has never been in the water, and I can teach them how to breathe and get neutrally buoyant,” explains Elliott. “That ability to get out of the wheelchair, escape gravity and move around on their own is unbeatable as far as therapy goes.”

Recognizing the profound impact of diving for individuals with diverse disabilities, Elliott became a PADI instructor in 1997, determined to share this life-changing experience. With no existing adaptive diving programs or certifications available through mainstream dive training agencies at the time, he pioneered his own curriculum, teaching adaptive divers using the PADI Scuba Diver certification.

Tailoring Techniques for Every Individual’s Needs

Teaching adaptive diving requires a deep understanding of adapting standard scuba diving skills and practices to each student’s unique needs. Instructors may assist divers by holding tank valves while swimming, or utilize alternative gear like full-face masks for those unable to hold a regulator. Elliott emphasizes, “As long as they understand how to equalize and control their breathing, we can help with the rest.”

Collaborating for Global Impact and Research Advancement

Diveheart’s influence extends far beyond its local community. The organization has operated programs in hundreds of cities worldwide and organizes dive trips to destinations like Cozumel and the Cayman Islands, fostering a vital global community. Additionally, Diveheart collaborates with researchers to advance the use of scuba in physical and psychotherapy, uncovering new findings about the impact of scuba diving in areas such as pain management, PTSD, and autism.

Through its pioneering efforts, Diveheart continues to redefine the boundaries of adaptive diving, empowering individuals with disabilities to experience the freedom and joy of underwater exploration while building confidence, independence, and self-esteem.

About Diveheart

Diveheart is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing adaptive scuba diving experiences and training to individuals with disabilities. Founded by Jim Elliott, a former advertising executive and passionate diver, Diveheart’s mission is to build confidence, independence, and self-esteem through the therapeutic power of scuba diving. For more information, visit