DEMA 2017: Passing the Torch

By Tara Bradley Connell

The DEMA Show 2017 kicked things off at the PADI® Social with an inspirational speech by Dr. Drew Richardson, the President and Chief Executive Officer for PADI Worldwide.

And while discussing innovations in the dive industry and the importance of dive education is always a popular topic amongst the dive community, this year, Richardson took the message a little deeper.


Here’s a look at some of the takeaways from Richardson’s message:

THE POWER OF DIVING: STATS

  • PADI certifications to date – over 25 million
  • PADI professionals worldwide – 133,000
  • Median age for new divers – 29 years old

Richardson started things off by noting that every day members of the dive community are enabling others to fulfill their desire to explore.

“We are enablers of exploration of inner space,” he said. “Outer space exploration is selective for certain people but we together have the opportunity to explore and be part of the inner space mission.”

He then referred to a quote from English veteran broadcaster and naturalist, Sir David Attenborough:

“I can mention many moments that were unforgettable and revelatory, but the most single revelatory three minutes was the first time I put on scuba gear and dived on a coral reef. It’s just the unbelievable fact that you can move in three dimensions.”

THE MISSION

Richardson then focused on the importance of PADI professionals as leaders who have the ability to create a global community of competent divers that are champions for the water planet.

“We are the leaders but with that comes responsibility,” he said. “We must teach divers to be ambassadors for the underwater planet. We have a responsibility to be good ancestors.”

With a focus on “divers are the doers,” Richardson then went on to discuss PADI’s Four Pillars of Change.

FOUR PILLARS OF CHANGE

Marine Animal Protection

By joining forces with organizations like Project AWARE®, PADI is working to combat marine debris, protect sharks and rays, and instill the importance of sustainable fishing.

“With plastic, pollution, and overfishing, there are many issues to address, but it’s not too late,” Richardson said. “We can reverse some of the damage that has been done by working together to conserve and protect marine resources.”

Ocean Health

PADI has also solidified relationships with Mission Blue, founded by Sylvia Earle, by joining in her efforts toward the promotion of Hope Spots.

The purpose of Hope Spots is to set aside dedicated ocean areas with the hope that less stress on the environment will reverse negative human impact, promote productivity and prevent further damage.

In addition, PADI is working with Project AWARE to rescue entangled animals from debris, and remove and recycle ghost gear, lost and abandoned fishing gear that causes damage to marine life.

People and Community

Richardson then went on to address the PADI community and the PADI AmbassaDivers™ that have made an impact in their local areas.

Noted PADI AmbassaDivers included Jack Fishman, Ernst Van Der Pol, Edgardo Ochoa and Andre Miller.

“These folks are making an impact and we want to get these stories out,” Richardson said. “The point is to tell the world their stories and invite them in. We want to tell your story, too.”

Richardson then addressed PADI AmbassaDivers that have made a difference in the world of healing and wellness by discussing the PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty course.

Healing and Wellness

“So many are paying it forward by making diving more accessible and more tangible for more people. In doing so, they are transforming lives and making the impossible, possible,” he said.

To coincide with that message, a short video showcased some pioneers in the PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty course with appearances by Alana Nichols, Parker Timberland and Leo Morales.

Morales summed up the message perfectly by saying:

“The most important thing is to do what you like to do and have some passion. That’s what scuba diving is for me,” he said. “The ocean gave me back my life.”

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

As PADI continues to invest in the Four Pillars of Change, education is still the foundation for the future of diving.

By globalizing the education program, the courses will be even more consistent and available in no less than 25 languages across multiple devices. With that, PADI’s goal is to optimize the process for a streamlined experience with long-term success and minimal paperwork.

“We want the user to have a seamless end-to-end consumer journey,” Richardson said.

Before closing, Richardson turned again to the PADI AmbassaDivers in attendance while encouraging future AmbassaDivers to share their stories.

“If we leave a nice footprint as an ancestor, those that go after us will carry that flag toward a sense of self that supersedes what most humans have the opportunity to experience on this planet,” Richardson said.

And with that, the bar was open and the steel drum band played – igniting the perfect start to another successful DEMA Show and a newfound hope for the future.

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