At the end of February, while performing my duties of PADI Examiner during an IE in Sharm el Sheikh, I had the pleasure to work with Bogdan Lawicki as candidate.
…it was the first time for me, as an Examiner, to evaluate a candidate instructor with disabilities: I was so impressed by his positivism, his attitude, knowledge and skills …that I decided to do a small interview with him and his course Director, Massimo Casabianca!
Let’s start with Boo:
Hi Boo, can you give us a short background about yourself?
I have always been a sportive and active person: table tennis, swimming and several martial arts!
In December 2008, I had a motorbike accident that brought to the amputation of my right leg, as you can imagine my life changed drastically and I had to adapt myself to this ‘new life’.
Despite the accident, my sportive nature did not change … I tried few different sports, but when I tried scuba diving – during a holiday – I felt in love with it and I decided to continue up to where I am today!
When did you start scuba diving?
I did my PADI Open Water Course in 2010, during a holiday in Marsa Alam – Egypt! That’s how I started.
Do you currently practice other sports?
My main sport activity is scuba diving …however, I do a lot of swimming to keep myself fit!
What relationship exist between scuba diving and your disability?
Underwater I feel free!
…and this freedom make me forget all the mobility problems and issues I face on the surface.
When did you decide it was time to become a PADI OWSI?
Three years ago, when I became PADI Divemaster. This was an important milestone in my diving career.
What made you decide to start a professional career in diving?
Honestly – at the beginning – I was concerned about becoming a professional diver because of the responsibilities involved; but then, I understood that this was the best way for me to share my love and passion for scuba diving.
Which kind of social impact your new role of PADI Instructor will have on others?
I believe this will help integration of people with disabilities into society: the society is still struggling to see people with disabilities practicing certain activities. Scuba diving will help people not to feel marginalized.
I personally see you as a role model, what’s your opinion: do you believe your story can be an inspiration for other people with disabilities?
In addition, I am proud to be considered as role model; the message I want to deliver is that, after an accident, life goes on and there are plenty of activities a person with disabilities can do …and one of this is certainly scuba diving!
What scuba diving gives you?
Scuba diving gives me a lot!
When I am doing a fun dive, I switch off from my routine, I relax and I enjoy exploring the underwater world. On the other hand, while I am teaching, I love the feeling of being able to share my knowledge, skills and passion with my student divers!
…and now some questions for Massimo:
How was the experience of teaching Boo’s IDC?
Challenging and gratifying! The challenge was to adapt the logistic and see the all IDC in a different way: not with my parameters but with the eyes of a person with disabilities.
Did you have previous experiences in teaching scuba diving to a person with disabilities?
No, that was the first time …and I will do it immediately again!
Boo has changed my approach to teaching …forever.
According to you, which kind of social impact Boo will have on others as PADI OWSI?
I believe he will be not only a role model but also an ambassador, especially for those families with kids with disabilities. Scuba diving will allow them to escape from their daily routine and enhance their interactions with their playmates.
Any special tip you want to share with other Instructors and Course Directors who are willing to teach divers with disabilities?
The only tip I feel like giving is to synergistically work with your students, listening for their needs and adapting your course day by day. Creativity and flexibility are key factors!
Limitations are mainly mental rather than physical: this is where Boo helped me to change my way of teaching, opening my mind and helping me understand that anything is possible … provided you want it!