Free diver training: pool opens for 400 teenagers

Diver training
Teenagers can learn to dive for free in Cornwall. CRED: Jake Tims

Four hundred teenagers will get the chance to embark on their Open Water Diver training for free in the South-west, starting this autumn, as the Dive Project Cornwall competition gets underway. 

The initiative, announced on Divernet last September, is aimed at secondary schools, giving 20 spread across 20 UK regions the chance to participate, and for their students to go on to become “ocean influencers”.

The teenagers will experience a “life-changing” six-day camping trip to Porthkerris on Cornwall’s south coast, where they will “learn to scuba dive with PADI, enjoy outdoor adventures, take up beach-related activities and attend presentations from leading marine industry experts”. The hope is that they in turn will “positively engage, inspire and motivate the next generation to save our planet”.

Each regional group of 20 students will be accompanied by up to three of their teachers over 20 weeks starting on 18 September this year. Allowing for a winter break from mid-October to mid-April, the programme should be complete by the end of July 2023. 

All secondary schools across England, Scotland and Wales are invited to take part, with the registration phase continuing until the end of March. A judging panel will then shortlist the schools that qualify for the next phase, which consists of a competition to design and document a marine creature using recyclable plastics. The closing date for the contest is 23 May, with the final 20 winning entrants to be notified a week later.

‘Millions of adults’

Dive Project Cornwall’s partners include PADI, which will undertake the diver training, including the pre-trip elearning; the Marine Conservation Society, which will have an educational role; and manufacturer Fourth Element, which has undertaken to supply dive-gear for the instructors involved.

Dive Project Cornwall, based in Porthleven, describes itself as a “new not-for-profit community interest company”. It aims to eliminate plastic pollution and protect the marine environment through education of the young people it introduces to the underwater world, according to project director Andy Forster. 

In the process it hopes to influence “millions of adults through promotional features via multiple media partners and strong collaborations with numerous ocean-based charities”.

Forster, who runs a marketing company, is based in Cornwall and volunteers as a PADI Dive Master on local dives with the Kennack Diving and Porthkerris centres. 

Registration for the Dive Project Cornwall competition is open only to teachers, so scuba divers with young family members or friends who might benefit from the scheme are encouraged to make schools aware of the opportunity. Teachers can register here.

18 Jan 22

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