The Eels on Wheels started in 1991 when a group of SCUBA instructors in Austin, Texas were teaching people with special needs and/or disabilities how to adapt and learn the sport of SCUBA Diving. Following a dive trip to Bonaire, the Eels on Wheels organization was formed to promote the sport of Adaptive Diving.
Adaptive Diving is just that: making the adaptations needed so that anyone, regardless of circumstances, can safely learn and participate in SCUBA diving.
The Handicapped SCUBA Association certifies the instructors, divers, and dive buddies. HSA utilizes three levels of certification:
Level A divers are certified to dive with one person.
Level B divers need two divers with them.
Level C divers must be accompanied by two divers with one being a rescue diver.
The Eels consist of both "Able Bodied" and "Adaptive" divers, although everyone involved considers themselves Adaptive Divers because of the training they all share. Eels on Wheels membership includes persons with disabilities, health-care professionals, and volunteer divers with specialized instruction as dive buddies.
Eels on Wheels takes at least one "big" diving trip each year, with groups often numbering 40-50 total and 10-15 divers with disabilities. Below is a list of the large Eels trips taken over the past 20 years. In addition to the big trips, smaller groups of Eels divers have dove around the world, with just a few of the locations being the Bahamas, Costa Rica, Cozumel, Hawaii, Fiji, Australia, Red Sea, Indonesia, Maldives, Turks & Caicos, Flower Gardens, and much more
|Bonaire||1991, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011|
|Belize||1997, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011|
|Cayman Brac & Little Cayman||1995, 1999, 2003, 2007|
The Eels on Wheels Adaptive Scuba Program is a registered 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that provides people the opportunity to dive at their own ability level by certifying divers through the Handicapped Scuba Association (HSA).
With resources from all the regulatory bodies governing Scuba diving, this program is able to meet the needs of virtually anyone wishing to be a SCUBA diver regardless of any physical or mental limitations.
Vision & Goals
OPPORTUNITY: Eels on Wheels demonstrates to people with and without disabilities that limitations can be overcome, and that even an adventure sport such as SCUBA diving can be an option for anyone. Along with the diving component, the Eels also provide an opportunity to socialize and share information among its members and friends.
CHOICE: A disability often leaves a person fearing their choice of activities is limited. Eels on Wheels strives to show them there are many choices available. It does this in part by focusing on an activity such as SCUBA diving.
CHALLENGE: SCUBA diving can be challenging for anyone. It requires a high level of physical and psychological competence. The sense of personal achievement that comes with certification is often translated into improvements in attitude, behavior, and self-image.
MOTIVATION: The Eels provide inspiration for everyone involved. It is truly awesome to see people motivated to achieve goals that once appeared impossible. Involvement in the community has increased awareness of and involvement with people with disabilities.
BARRIER REMOVAL: People who meet the Eels leave with a totally different perspective of what life is like with a disability. Encounters with Eels members will positively affect the community's perceptions and attitude toward persons with disabilities.