Rocky Mountain Adaptive Aquatics

aka Denver Adaptive Divers   |   Denver, CO   |  http://www.denveradaptivedivers.org

Mission

As a Colorado 501c(3) organization, Denver Adaptive Divers provides support, education, specialized training, and dive travel to qualified individuals with physical disabilities to enable them to become an integral part of the sport of scuba diving.

Ruling year info

2017

Executive Director

John Sherman

Secretary

Mrs. Janine Melberg

Main address

557 Milwaukee St

Denver, CO 80206 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

81-4191070

NTEE code info

Other Recreation, Sports, or Leisure Activities N.E.C. (N99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

People with disabilities have a decreased quality of life based on their needs for support from others to mitigate the physical, emotional, social, and mental health impact of living with a disability. In the United States there is approximately 15 to 20% of the population that has disabilities. As a result of combining the disability with the lack of aerobic exercise this causes further complications for the population living with disabilities. An article in Web MD in 2014 quoted Ileana Arias, Principal Deputy Director of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "We are very concerned about this, because working-age adults with disabilities who get no aerobic physical activity are 50 percent more likely to have cancer, diabetes, stroke or heart disease than those who get the recommended amount of physical activity,". Denver Adaptive Divers (DAD) is dedicated to bringing a new sense of freedom, joy and accomplishment to individuals living with disabilities.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Quality of Life through Scuba

The objective and commitment of the current program are to change the lives of people living with disabilities. DAD was formed by scuba diving enthusiasts who search for good diving and even better camaraderie and friendship. A desire to share the experience of scuba diving with others is at the heart of DAD Being able to share this wondrous world with people who have disabilities heightens the sense of community for both those with disabilities and those who bring them into the underwater world.

Population(s) Served
People with physical disabilities
People with disabilities

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of people introduced to Try Scuba

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with disabilities

Related Program

Quality of Life through Scuba

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of people trained and certified

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with disabilities

Related Program

Quality of Life through Scuba

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of Classified Open Water Instructors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with disabilities

Related Program

Quality of Life through Scuba

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of volunteer hours serving the program

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with disabilities

Related Program

Quality of Life through Scuba

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Hours given by volunteers to the program in the areas Certified Dive Buddy, social media and fund raising

Number of nonprofits relationships established serving the same population to expand people served

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with disabilities

Related Program

Quality of Life through Scuba

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Nonprofits that are collaborated with to introduce the program to Denver Adaptive Divers

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Improving the Quality of Life (QoL) for Divers Living with Disabilities - The 2021 goal is to change the lives of more people living with disabilities and their families by improving their QoL using the sporting activity of scuba diving. DAD was formed by scuba diving enthusiasts who search for good diving and even better comradery and friendship. Being able to share this wonderous world with people who have disabilities heightens the sense of community for those with disabilities, their families and those who bring them into the underwater world. Scuba diving enriches the QoL for all who participate but has a major impact on those with disabilities. The program promotes health, both physically and mentally. Participation removes everyday barriers when diving while creating a sense of equality with everyone else. This life-changing experience brings joy, a new sense of freedom and accomplishment while providing a comradery with other divers. QoL is brought about due to the freedom of being weightless when neutrally buoyant while diving and finding a “flow” {a phenomenon where a person “becomes so engrossed in the activity that nothing else seems to matter, as the person’s attention is entirely devoted to the engagement in the activity” (Carin-Levy & Jones, 2007, p. 7)}. This condition of flow results in a relaxed state of mind and is physically beneficial due to low impact exercise. The sense of freedom is achieved when not needing a wheelchair, crutches, or prosthetics to feel supported while underwater. The sense of equality is created by everyone looking and acting the same under the water. Everyone is using a tank, regulator, BCD, mask and fins. This results in a higher self-confidence and self-esteem as adaptations to the equipment allow the diver to perform as many of the skills as possible on their own. Depression is often replaced with exhilaration and awe of the beauty of a whole new world below the surface of the ocean. The sense of achievement is obtained by doing a sport that most often the participant would not believe is possible which is often true for first time divers with or without disabilities. These QoL characteristics often lead to the individual promoting change in their life activities beyond the scuba diving experience. It is within the existence of this symbiotic relationship that new adventures unfold. DAD wants to bring the wonder of the diving community to those who often believe that opportunity is outside their reach or life circumstances. Our training for potential new divers and buddies teaches them to do the activity safely. It is, however, the entry into the new world below the surface of the sea that brings freedom, joy, a sense of accomplishment and often a new purpose to life itself. DAD plans to significantly impact the lives of the people living with disabilities using scuba diving.

Collaboration – Identifying Suitable Individuals to serve
Since the beginning of our adaptive scuba program when five instructors from Denver Divers participated in the specialized training necessary to teach people living with disabilities to scuba dive, the efforts to reach the population living with disabilities has been oriented at partnering with other nonprofit entities that also serve the same groups. The specialized training includes required skills necessary to train a population living with physical and mental disabilities including:
• Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
• Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
• Rheumatoid Arthritis
• Parkinson’s Disease (early stage)
• ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease (early stage)
• Multiple Sclerosis (MS) (early stage)
• Muscular Dystrophy
• Sensory disabilities of hearing and visual impairment
• Cognitive disabilities such as PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), autism and other conditions that, in the mild state, are included in those that DAD serves.

DAD will continue training Instructors and volunteers to meet the needs of the population that DAD serves. DAD will also be expanding the fund raising efforts to include grants from foundations with similar goals and interests while continuing fund raising through donations and gifts.

The remarkable growth of DAD led to the need for a Board of Directors and Medical Advisory Board to guide future endeavors. DAD sought to attract board members with significant experience in scuba training; fund raising; nonprofit management; and services for adaptive athletes. In each we found that spirit that inspires others to strive for personal success. The Board of Directors are all significant financial donors as well as contributing their time and expertise at no cost to the organization. The instructor staff has in excess 250 years of teaching experience. The medical advisory committee areas of expertise cover a wide range in both the physical and cognitive disciplines and all are part of the program as Certified Dive Buddies accompanying the group on the dive trips.
Denver Adaptive Divers has been honored and privileged to have drawn the interest of many of the diving family members of Denver Divers. In addition to all Board of Directors and all members of the Medical Advisory Board who contribute their time and expertise to DAD many other divers have come forth to get involved in any way they can. Many desired to become certified dive buddies to help with participants in Try Scuba and later in the training of future adaptive divers. Currently there are over 20 certified dive buddies and 12 more to enter training soon.
Others have contributed in helping with social media exposure and updates making sure that the population has as much chance to read about and subsequently get involved with the program. The creation of event calendars, Facebook updates, postings in the Denver Diver newsletter and other media awareness means. In conjunction with the collaborative relationships of other nonprofits serving the population, DAD has been abled to develop a much wider exposure.
The work of Janine Melberg and volunteers has done a terrific job with our fund-raising events of our annual dinner and underwater poker tournament which to date has been the sources of the dollar donations to DAD, that permits the participation and growth experienced in the program.
Denver Divers and Denver Adaptive Divers operate through the international certification agency, Scuba Schools International (SSI). One of the world’s two largest certification agencies, SSI has spent years developing a training program for divers with physical disabilities.
Rather than “classify” all disabled divers as the same, SSI has developed three levels of the Open Water Diver certification to include adaptive divers. There are required skills for an able-bodied person to demonstrate obtain the Open Water Certification. The level of classification for divers with disabilities is based on the skills on which the adaptive diver needs assistance, and the number of Certified Dive Buddies that are needed to keep the adaptive diver safe. This has been the successful combination that has led to the success to date and will drive the continuing success for years to come.

At the base of the DAD program lies a talented and generous group of individuals that have taken their training as Instructors and enhanced those skills by training to meet the varied needs of the disabled population. A key to success is to adapt to the individual’s specific needs (such as altering wet suits with zippers around the elbows and knees to make it easier to don the suit, or adapting the communication process between diver and team to understand and address a need) to create a safe, fun and life changing experience. Assessing triggering actions for each individual and developing an “early warning” signal to use underwater to communicate distress from diver to instructor can be a critical function if the diver is becoming distressed. Dive instructors and volunteers are trained to recognize and mitigate triggering actions. They in turn, pass this along to a family member who is trained to become the individual’s Certified Dive Buddy. To date DAD has introduced the sport of scuba diving to more than 100 individuals living with disabilities and has certified more than 30 adaptive divers and an equal number of family members as Certified Dive Buddies making this activity one that will last a lifetime.
DAD has expanded the number of Instructors from the original five to now boasting twenty. The number of volunteers that have been trained to work inside the program has grown to more than thirty. This ranks among the most for those associated with a dive shop anywhere in the United States.
Funding is obviously needed to pay for the program components. For that reason, Denver Adaptive Divers (DAD) was formed in 2016 and received its IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in February of 2017. The fund raising to date has almost exclusively been done through fund raiser dinners and contributions by the customers of Denver Divers and others that wanted to sponsor the program. In 2016 the event raised $18,000.00 which funded two individuals and their Certified Dive Buddies. The program has grown each year with the event in January 2020 raising $100,000.00.
DAD has built relationships with more than a dozen nonprofits serving the population of those living with disabilities. It will continue to develop those type of relationships to continue the growth of the program.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

Rocky Mountain Adaptive Aquatics
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Rocky Mountain Adaptive Aquatics

Board of directors
as of 1/28/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

John Sherman

Denver Adaptive Divers

Term: 2017 - 2023

Janine Melberg

Denver Adaptive Divers

Corky Vickers

Ovintiv

Craig Hilton

Denver Divers

Tim Ashley

Arisen beyond Borders

Margaret Pflueger

Campbell Killin Brittan & Ray, LLC

Dan Fowler

Fowler Rentals

John Sherman

Rocky Mountain Adaptive Aquatics, dba Denver Adaptive Divers

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/30/2020,

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 11/30/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.