Every so often, we encounter someone who truly inspires us and redefines our perceptions. Recently, that person was a remarkable 12-year-old junior diver named Evy.

When we learned that a junior diver would be joining us for a double reef dive, we meticulously planned the day to ensure a safe and memorable experience. Our team focused on reducing the diver-to-guide ratio, considering the experience level of each group, and selecting the best and safest dive sites. We left no stone unturned, ensuring our most experienced team members were on hand to provide the highest level of care and attention.

Dive Day

The dive day arrived, and we were all set. Meeting Evy, we were instantly impressed by her maturity and independence. She confidently sorted her equipment and engaged in deep conversations, showcasing her profound love and knowledge of the ocean.

Our first dive was a shallow, easy dive with excellent visibility. Evy displayed impeccable buoyancy and trim, demonstrating her awareness of her surroundings and adherence to reef-safe practices. She returned to the boat after an hour with 120 bar left in her tank, a textbook performance that showed her proficiency.

Convinced of her capabilities, we proceeded to a more challenging dive: a spectacular coral wall drift dive at 16 meters. As expected, Evy conducted herself like a seasoned diver with over a thousand dives, maintaining depth at the safety stop and surfacing with 110 bar left. Her exceptional performance left us in awe.

Evy’s Story

However, what truly stole our hearts was what we learned on our journey back to shore. Not only is Evy an incredibly talented young diver, but she has also overcome significant challenges to get where she is today. With her and her parents’ permission, we are delighted to share a little interview with Evy, hoping it will inspire others.

Evy was diagnosed with a learning difficulty called Dysgraphia.

Interview with Evy:

Evy, how did you get into diving?

“I have always loved the ocean because I grew up with it at my doorstep. And I have always loved marine creatures like sharks, octopus and mantis shrimp. I have so many books about the ocean and love watching documentaries. So I asked Mum and Dad if I could learn to scuba dive for my 11th birthday.”

Have you developed any unique skills or adaptations that helped you in diving and dive training?

“I learn best by seeing and doing, rather than reading and writing. Having someone show me first, then letting me do it, means I learn new skills much more quickly. Using videos for the study portions when doing certifications helps me a lot, as does being able to do the tests online.  I’ve learnt to type very fast because writing is extremely difficult for me.  I need help from Mum and Dad or a dive buddy to complete forms and fill out my logbooks which I also hate and wish there were other options to do this, but I know it’s important to have my logbook in paper form if I’m ever diving somewhere remote and they don’t have internet. Communicating underwater can be hard if people are using slates or collecting data – using hand signals is much easier for me.  If I can use tally marks or images I can tick – then I can participate, but otherwise I can’t which at times I find frustrating.  I also find myself concentrating really hard when I’m setting up and unpacking my dive equipment so that I don’t miss a step or mess up…but that might be because I’m a kid and I worry people don’t think I shouldn’t be there with the adults or I’m not good enough to be a diver.  For me, one of the advantages of my dysgraphia is that I have really strong verbal reasoning and vocabulary (among other things) so most other divers are surprised that even though I’m a kid I can have really interesting conversations and discussions about the dives I’ve been on and the wildlife I’ve encountered.  My memory for facts is also really great so that helps too.”

How have your instructors, parents, and dive buddies supported you in your diving journey?

“Mum and Dad always support me and encourage me to do what I’m passionate about…and carry all my gear because its super heavy.  GCDA (Gold Coast Dive Adventures) have been amazing and encourage me to constantly improve my diving skills, they’re very focussed on encouraging young people to understand the ocean and help care for it. For example, we’ve dived with Grey Nurse Sharks in the marine sanctuary at North Stradbroke and we’ve rescued a Green Sea Turtle and taken it to Sea World and we’ve dived with Sea Shepard to cleanup the Southport Seaway.  And I love diving with Leia who is a marine biologist and teaches me about all the things we see. “

What dive center did you attain your dive certifications with?

“I’ve now gained my Junior Advanced Open Water certification and I do all my certs with Gold Coast Dive Adventures.”

Are there any particular dive sites or marine species you hope to see in the future?

“All of the sharks but in particular Hammerhead Sharks…maybe in the Bahamas.  I also want to see the Coconut Octopus in either the Philippines or maybe up northern Queensland.  Oh and I want to dive with Seals (Billie said they are super playful).”

What support channels are there for families?

“There’s not a lot to be honest, though SPELD is a great place to start.  Our best find has been a small company in Brisbane called Learning Ladders which is run by an amazing and passionate woman, Kerri Wilson.  Through Learning Ladders we have been able to access all kinds of tutors that understand and specialise in helping children with learning difficulties to thrive and succeed (we can even zoom if we’re travelling so we don’t miss out).”

How did you find out about us?

“A lot of Googling. Mum is always on the lookout for highly rated dive companies that have marine biologists in their team, that are passionate about environmental protection/advocacy and most importantly have women dive instructors (she says it’s important that as a young girl I see women doing the jobs I dream about).  And it’s harder than you think to find dive companies that are willing to have young divers on board. That’s why we chose Dive, Spear and Sport.

Evy in action on the Gold Coast

Bright Underwater Future

Evy is not a girl with Dysgraphia; she is a talented young professional diver with a very bright underwater future ahead of her. Her story is a testament to resilience, passion, and the power of overcoming challenges.

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