Using Aquariums to Help Students with Special Needs

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WEISSPORT, Pa. -- A man from Carbon County is using a passion of his to help others. It involves installing aquariums, which are known to provide health benefits.

James Hydro of Jim Thorpe installs and maintains aquariums. He's experienced firsthand what aquatic life can do for those with disabilities so now, he's using those experiences and his passion to help others.

"They create a distraction. It's very soothing and calming. They're educational. Aquariums have actually been shown to lengthen your life," Hydro said.

Fittingly named, Hydro is the owner of Hydro's Reef, an aquarium installation and maintenance business that covers much of northeastern Pennsylvania. He's had an appreciation for marine biology ever since he was young and now, he's trying to use that love for aquatic life to help others.

"One hundred (percent) of the influence came from my son. I've always had aquariums in the home and he's always just loved them. I've just seen his interaction with the fish and how much he's enjoyed it and how much it's helped him," Hydro said.

Hydro also operates a program called "Giving Tanks."  He installs aquariums at places like senior centers and special-needs schools, where those health benefits can be advantageous, including at ISST in Weissport, where Hydro's son with autism goes to school.

"It will calm my feelings. It will calm my anger and my sadness to happiness! "said Donnovan Hydro.

"I would like to share my passion and share the benefits of having an aquarium with other people who have special needs and other people who can benefit from it," James said.

Since the aquarium was installed two years ago, the school says it's been a huge benefit to students.

"They like to come out here. They'll sit and watch the fish and decompress. It helps them to get out of the moment, get out of their head with whatever is upsetting them and focus on something else," said Lisa-Marie Nicholson, the director of autism programming.

Hydro is looking to expand and install aquariums at more schools with some fundraising assistance. Get more information here.

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