Skydiving Business Helps Students At Center For The Blind

By Shawn Chitnis

LONE TREE, Colo. (CBS4) – Students participating in programs run by the Colorado Center for the Blind experienced indoor skydiving Monday at the iFly Denver wind tunnel in Lone Tree.

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(credit: CBS)

There they learned about Science Technology Engineering Mathematics education, also known as STEM, and how to challenge themselves regardless of any perceived barriers.

“The air just takes you up,” said Mason Seminsky, one student. “It feels like you’re floating there, it’s really relaxing.”

The center was invited by iFly Denver to bring around 30 students that range in age from 18 to 60.

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(credit: CBS)

Besides flying indoors, they also learned about the science behind it. Students completed a lab to demonstrate how skydiving is an example of STEM education.

Studying the surface area of different sports balls, the students understood how the wind affects different objects or humans depending on their size or shape.

“It’s just really nice to get to share with them something that was very unique and fun,” said Mike Silva, lead instructor for iFly Denver.

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(credit: CBS)

Some of the students participating at the wind tunnel on Park Meadows Drive were from out of state. They came to Colorado as part of an extensive program at the Center.

“I’m learning how to not let that vision thing stop me,” said Melissa Baehr, a student from Pennsylvania.  “Now I can do whatever I want and not let the vision stop me from doing it.”

Students suited up and were guided into the chamber for the wind tunnel with the help of instructors. The staff at iFly held them inside so they took the right pose and could float inside for about a minute each.

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(credit: CBS)

“I think they’re pretty darn excited,” said Silva. “Some of these people were hooting and hollering and having a great time.”

Seminsky, 18, has a degenerative disease called retinitis pigmentosa. He can’t see detail at the moment and is color blind. Doctors have told him he will be totally blind at some point in his 20s.

“I really like being able to do other activities with people that are blind or visually impaired like me because you don’t stick out as much,” said Seminsky “Everyone is at an equal level.”

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Baehr has 20 percent vision in her right eye and is blind in her left eye. Baehr explained the condition she has causes constant eye twitching. But the experience at iFLY gave her a new outlook on how to view life.

“Not letting things stop me from what I want to and what I’ve always wanted to do,” she said.

The fear of trying indoor skydiving would make many think twice, but most in this group overcame it. The session provided a lesson more meaningful than anything you could discover in a classroom.

“You only live once, and if you get an opportunity like this, I would go for it no matter what,” said Seminsky.

Shawn Chitnis reports for CBS4 News at 10 on weekends and CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. throughout the week. Email him story ideas at smchitnis@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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