This summer many of us will make the trek across the sand-carting chairs, umbrellas and burdensome coolers, whatever it takes to get near the ocean. But what about those who are living with paralysis? Wouldn't they benefit from a day inhaling the salty air, gazing at the infinite blue pallet while listening to the hypnotic rhythm of the sea as well? Would they, too, enjoy feeling weightless cradled in the oceans embrace?
One in fifty Americans are living with paralysis according to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. How many of these people do we see enjoying the ocean? My guess is not many. There are efforts today to change that. Let's take a look at some of them, shall we?
Creative minds and some effort from volunteers, friends and family now allow wheelchair bound people to get closer to the water with beach wheelchairs and access mats. Contact the beach, or local parks and recreation department of the beach you would like to go to, beforehand to see if they offer these adaptable options. Often they are available for free and reservations are encouraged. If your favorite beach doesn't offer this, consider raising money to get some.
Cory Lee, demonstrates how he used the temporary access mat provided and set up by Ocean Cures on his facebook page, Curb Free with Cory Lee. Check it out here. If you are living with a disability, considering liking his page, he goes to a lot of fun places!
Many of our veterans have returned from war with injuries of all sorts impairing their mobility. Despite these challenges, they are engaging in the ocean with the help of dedicated volunteers experienced in water sports. Many of them report that these therapeutic recreation activities have been an integral part in their healing from physical and mental wounds obtained while serving.
Nurses will go to the ends of the earth to help their patients. The nurses who volunteer for DiveHeart.org will even go deep into the sea. Scuba diving in tandem with medically challenged people takes a special set of skills. Nurses have always recognized the healing power of nature and they are not afraid to learn whatever skills are necessary to engage their patients in the outdoors.
Recognizing this need, I am planning to coordinate a beginning surfing lesson for nurses with pro surfer, Tony Silvagni's surf school, this summer. If you are a nurse, and want more information, please contact me through my contact page. I am also accepting donations and sponsorships for this event.
Water advocate and visionary leader, Wallace J. Nichols recently tweeted this:
Imagine if we could get more people into the outdoors to improve their health and wellness? The BlueMind Tribe, of which Nichols is the champion, has compiled a list of organizations that offer water therapy options ( link.) If you know of more that should be added, visit www.wallacejnichols.org and submit your suggestion.
I hope this blog has expanded your awareness of all the possibilities that exist to reap the healing benefits of nature no matter what condition we are in. As always, this information is meant to be educational. Always consult with your healthcare team before trying anything new if you have a medical condition. Please feel free to share your stories of how nature has benefited you in the comments below.
Thanks for reading and please share if you care and want to help others.