Friday, July 14, 2006

Handicapped Scuba Association, Israel

HSA Israel Announced
Dr. Nathan Cohen To Lead HSA in Israel and the surrounding region.

Who could have guessed that behind a tall white fence in a serene residential neighborhood not far from Tel Aviv, history was in the making: the creation of the Handicapped Scuba Association, Israel.
It all began with Dr. Natan Cohen, sponsor of a whirlwind week of HSA training: a Course Director Training Course (CDTC) followed by an Instructor Training Course (ITC) held from November 28 through December 4, 2005.
Since then the on-going process of formalizing the structure of HSA Israel continues to establish its presence under the leadership of Dr. Cohen, President of HSA Israel. The rigors of leadership, however, don’t faze Natan who serves as Deputy Director of Hillel Yaffe Medical Center and Founder of the Child Development Center, an extensive and impressive facility within the hospital.
Dr. Cohen refers to himself as a “Developmental Pediatrician,” meaning he specializes in child development. With that in mind, Natan contacted HSA International, curious to know how scuba diving might benefit young people who are cognitively impaired. He made up his mind and organized the first HSA Course Director Training Course (CDTC) in Israel. The CDTC requires 3 days of intense lectures that train the Course Director candidates how to use the manuals, lectures and water work to develop empathy and instructor teaching skills in their future HSA ITCs.
For each of 3 evenings, the 4 HSA Course Director candidates, including Natan, met in the Cohen’s’ home for highly verbal, even thought-provoking interactions between Gatacre and themselves that lasted long into the night. Natan’s wife, Nurit, graciously provided a tantalizing array of refreshments with which to fuel the active minds of the candidates.
Following their certification exams on the last night of the CDTC, few hours remained for sleep before the ITC they were about to teach was to begin in Eilat many miles south across the starkly beautiful Negev Desert.
All young Israeli men and women serve in the military so there was no mention of fatigue as the Course Director convoy arrived in Eilat countless hours later and immediately launched into Day 1 of the intensive 3-day HSA Instructor Training Course.
Each of the new Course Directors (Dov Bensman, Larry Tenenbaum, Sani Sanilevich and Dr. Natan Cohen) would co-teach the ITC to 8 underwater professionals at Meduza Israeli Sea Center. There on the Bay of Eilat with its calm, shimmering waters, a narrow curve of beach separated the fringe of shoreline from Meduza, operated by Sani and chosen as the host facility for HSA Israel’s debut Instructor Training Course.
It’s easy to see why. As a dive center Meduza has it all, from Nitrox and Tech diving to wreck and cave diving. The Center is replete with an on-site gear shop, a tropical-style snack bar, even its own floating pier.
Not only does Meduza have it all, Sani prides himself in making his Sea Center unique by making it wheelchair accessible. Now Meduza can add one more dive training specialty: training and certifying divers with physical as well as cognitive disabilities.
David Ederi, a Senior Dive Instructor at Meduza for over 3 years, is also the Center’s Web Master.
     “Before we even thought about doing the HSA Course I went to your web site and saw that many diving agencies recognize you,” David observed. “The first time I saw handicapped divers going into the water, I thought that can’t be happening,” he exclaimed, “I mean, for a person who cannot walk to strap himself onto scuba gear and GO...what’s going on there!”
When the HSA Instructor Course appeared on Meduza’s schedule, David signed up.
     “I thought the HSA Instructor’s Course would be a good experience for me,” he reasoned, “it’s a great satisfaction for myself and a great satisfaction for the handicapped diver. That was what motivated me to take the Course. And it was a very insightful Course...so much information I didn’t even know existed.”
David is with good company: he’s one of 2,400 HSA Instructors in 46 countries throughout the world whose integrity and sensitivity have transformed the lives of handicapped people eager for safe adventures to enrich their memories.
The Handicapped Scuba Association is an international, independent training and certifying agency with over 4,000 members. HSA Founder and President Jim Gatacre warmly calls them “our army of good guys” as the HSA celebrates its 27th year as the world-wide authority for handicapped diving.
Contacts: Dr. Natan Cohen natush@netvision.net.il