Do you believe in miracles? Lyndi Leggett was skeptical until the day she saw one happen. Scrolling online, she came across the story of David Lawrence Junior, a 10-year-old boy who had been paralysed from the neck-down. Despite being told he'd never move again, he learnt how to walk, run, and even swim. But the secret to his remarkable recovery was no mystery at all – it was scuba diving.
Leggett reached out to David’s father in the United States to learn about the surprising approach. A professional scuba diver and instructor, Leggett was astonished to discover that the sport had helped David reconnect his nervous system, improve muscle tone, and reduce pain and spasms. While a challenging skill for able-bodied people, the training is effective for those suffering from neurological and spinal disabilities. On the ground, many struggle to focus and gain control of their muscles. But underwater, they can push their limits in an anti-gravity environment without distractions. “There’s a big need for people with disabilities to have access to this kind of therapy,” Leggett says. So partnering with Lawrence Senior, Leggett founded The Scuba Gym in New South Wales, Australia.
Leggett’s centre has made waves in the lives of people with physical and neurological needs. While she assists people with varied conditions, many have been able to regain strength and mobility as well as increase their flexibility through scuba diving. “Helping people rehabilitate in a very different way is quite something,” Leggett says. Along with a pool of qualified volunteers, Leggett also runs full-day scuba camps. The programme is specifically designed for people with Down Syndrome, autism, or those who have suffered a brain injury. From snorkelling to treasure hunts, each activity helps stimulate their cognitive development in a fun and active way. Submerging her students in a new world, Leggett is giving them the confidence and support to achieve the seemingly impossible.