Roger Muller worked in academia and the business world before committing to his passion of creating an organization that would provide teens with a unique learning experience. On a diving trip to Grand Cayman in 2000, Roger dived with his brother Bobby, a Marine Corps combat veteran with paraplegia as a result of an injury sustained in Vietnam. Seeing how much Bobby enjoyed the freedom of diving, Roger decided Stay-Focused would be dedicated to offering teens with disabilities the same opportunity to enjoy the water his brother had experienced. Stay-Focused, a 501(c)(3) public charity, was incorporated in January 2003.
Stay-Focused Mission Statement
Stay-Focused offers a unique, transformational learning experience to teens and young adults with disabilities. Through a SCUBA diving certification program, participants gain confidence, develop leadership skills, and become more independent. Participants learn to challenge themselves, become more aware of their abilities, set higher goals, and form long-term friendships. Stay-Focused is committed to supporting medical research that explores the beneficial aspects of diving on persons with mobility impairment.
Stay-Focused CORE VALUES
Providing a safe learning environment is both a priority and a value. Special attention is paid to ensure each participant is physically and mentally prepared to benefit from the experience. Each group of divers develops a Responsibility Code at the start of the program that guides their behavior and underscores the value of teamwork. Respect for the individual is paramount, and each program supports the tenet of “no one left behind.” Integrity is understood, persistence encouraged, and leadership developed.
The vision for Stay-Focused is to create a unique leadership development organization for teens with disabilities that enhances their quality of life and provides the opportunity for continued growth. SCUBA diving offers teens and young adults with disabilities an unparalleled opportunity to experience freedom from their disability, gain confidence, and realize their ability to set higher goals. Friendships formed during the program last a lifetime, and Stay-Focused alumni will always be involved in guiding, and, eventually running, the organization. Learning more about the beneficial aspects of SCUBA diving for persons with disabilities and assisting in developing appropriate guidelines is a priority. Ideally, Stay-Focused will attain recognition as the most highly-regarded learning organization for teens and young adults with disabilities.
Create an advanced leadership development organization that offers a unique, transformational experience to teens with disabilities, and creates lifelong relationships. Be the best SCUBA diving program, focused on safety, personal attention, and opportunities for continued growth.
Stay-Focused Balanced Scorecard
One empirical measure of success is the number of participants who have become PADI certified divers: to date, 145 over 19 years. Equally important, although more subjective, is the change participants have experienced, most often described as increased confidence, the desire to take on new challenges, and the determination to set higher goals. The testimonials provided by participants, and their parents, about the impact the program has had on their lives are compelling.
The Stay-Focused alumni who have been chosen to serve as mentors represent the emerging leadership of the organization and, ultimately, will run Stay-Focused in the future. Their success in doing so, in addition to their personal success outside of Stay-Focused, will help substantiate the longer-term impact of the program.
Video and editing by Sean Crothers, 2019