Out in Long Beach, NY, it is commonplace for kids to at least give surfing a chance. For children with disabilities, being able to experience the same “rite of passage” might seem hopeless. Thankfully, there are organizations like Surf for All, which is home to a dedicated and well-educated staff who are committed to helping youngsters with disabilities conquer waves.
Every day Surf for All watches children with various disabilities ride their first waves and experience the thrill of doing so. One of the founders, Harvey Weisenberg, isn’t necessarily concerned about whether or not it’s therapeutic.
“It’s a thrill of feeling yourself in a situation where you have control and you are working with nature to get some pleasure and enjoyment, and that’s what surfing is all about,” says Weisenberg.
Surfing may or may not be therapeutic for a child with disabilities, but it is has definitely proven to be a confidence booster in Long Beach. The aim of the founders and staff is to fulfill the dreams of children by getting on a wave and helping them ride it back to shore.
Surf for All was founded in 2002, and they only had five pupils; all with autism. Now, the program has over 1,800 alumni.
Another one of the founders, Cliff Skudin, who holds a Masters Degree in Physical Education and is also a world-class surfer, remembers taking a nonverbal child with autism that went out to tackle his first wave. When Skudin and the child arrived back at shore, the child spoke his first words: “More! More! I want more!” The child’s family could not believe what they had just witnessed.
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