Given the opportunity, residents of Friendship Village dove right in!

Dive Heart

Residents at Friendship Village and students of Elmhurst Learning and Success Academy (ELSA) celebrated their unique partnership in a suitably inimitable way. Earlier this month, seniors and their young friends with cognitive disabilities honored their friendship by scuba diving in Friendship Village’s beautiful aquatic center. 

91-year old Velma Robinson said that scuba diving was “fantastic.”  She added that the opportunity permitted her to try something new. “I just can’t see people sitting in their rooms watching TV when they can get out and enjoy life,” she said.

Friendship Village is a retirement community in Schaumburg. Jeannette Magdaleno, manager of life-long learning and volunteer services who coordinated the event said, “We are always encouraging the residents to try something new.” Over the past several years, Friendship Village’s lifestyles department has introduced residents to rock climbing, laser tag, archery, iFLY indoor skydiving, go-karting, snow tubing, and now scuba diving. “When you try something new, it makes you feel very alive,” she said.

The residents of Friendship Village have been working on a volunteer project with students from ELSA, which is a four-year post-high school program at Elmhurst College for young adults with disabilities.  The project, called New Life for Old Bags, uses recycled garbage bags to create sleeping mats for the homeless. “This event with Diveheart permitted the residents of Friendship Village and the students to celebrate their friendship while trying something new,” said Jeannette.

The scuba diving instruction was provided by Diveheart. The Downers Grove-based not-for-profit offers scuba diving instruction and opportunities to children and adults with disabilities and wounded veterans.

“Scuba diving was very exhilarating,” said 87-year old Helen Moffat, who tried out scuba diving. “It gives you a new lease on life!”

Click here to watch the segment about this adventure on WGN News with Erin Ivory.

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