Organization helping young women cross barriers


Dr Nevada Winrow, CEO and founder of the Black Girls Dive Foundation, says she was destined to love water. Her mother would take her to swimming lessons at the YWCA before she was even a year old.

“It’s my safe space, it’s just to be in the water,” said Dr Winrow.

Pediatric neuropsychologist and PADI certified divemaster, Dr Winrow started the nonprofit in 2017. She says she came up with the idea for the foundation after attending an annual scuba diving summit and chatting the lack of representation of African American women in the scuba diving industry.

The Maryland-based program aims to teach young women historically underrepresented in STEM.

Black Girls Dive students have the opportunity to learn about marine science, scuba diving, underwater photography, and remote control vehicles, among others. Participants in the program can start as young as 9 and continue their education and training through college.

“The ultimate goal of our organization is to provide young girls with the opportunity to have other choices,” said Dr Winrow.

Dwayne Johnson, lead instructor for Black Girls Dive, says the sport of scuba diving presents major financial hurdles.

“Originally when we left it was: ‘What are the biggest barriers to entry to train young people, especially young people from inner city areas, to scuba dive?’ So one of them was the equipment, ”Johnson said.

Dr Winrow says that due to this financial hurdle, the Black Girls Dive program is free for students who want to take diving training. She says the program also aims to remove certain societal barriers.

“Some of the stigma in the African American community is that we shouldn’t swim, which is ridiculous. I think it’s a life skill, I think just like you should learn to drive. You know, no one asks you to be Michael Phelps, but know how to save your life if you fall in the water, ”said Dr Winrow.

Black Girls Dive student Alex Johnson says at first she was reluctant to participate, but as soon as she saw other girls diving she decided to give it a try.

“If it was a boy thing and you were the only girl, you wouldn’t feel like you belonged.” So it’s kinda nice to have all the girls, not to be afraid to talk about anything, ”said Alex Johnson.

Johnson says his vision is to help facilitate greater diversity in the sport.

“When people dive now, they can see a black or two on a boat diving. I want them to be able to say, ‘OK, there’s a Black Girls Dive Foundation graduate, and they know how to dive, I want to be diving buddies with them,’ ”said Dwayne Johnson.

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