For a parent with a child in the autism spectrum, there are fewer words to describe the heartbreak upon learning that their child’s world is now ruled by inexplicable boundaries. Surfers for Autism is a 501 (c) (3) not for profit dedicated to the introduction of the sport of surfing to children with special needs, and opens the doors to a world that was once slammed shut to these children.
The Surfers For Autism (SFA) mission is to unlock the potential of people with developmental disabilities, while supporting advocacy for autism issues and scientific research. Their focus is to eliminate stigma through public awareness and education and to unite communities through volunteerism.
SFA began in December 2007 when the idea was presented to a small group of South Florida surfers by a member whose life and family had been touched by autism. California-based Surfers Healing, an organization taking children with ASD surfing, was having great success, so this family wanted to bring it to a local level. Thus, the inaugural Deerfield Beach event was set for that next April, where 40 surfers with autism hit the water and over $10,000 was raised to benefit autism associated charities. SFA has since hosted events in several locations on Florida’s East Coast, and single events have registered as many as 200 surfers, and have raised close to $20,000.
Families are now able to experience a world they were once denied. Such is the healing power of the ocean and the SFA mission!
At a SFA event, the “new” surfers are provided a safe environment where two to four highly skilled and trained surf instructors carefully guide them into waves. The surfers and their families are treated like rock stars and enjoy a day filled with a range of fun activities including stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, live music, face-painting, games, bounce houses, and even fire engine tours. A catered lunch is also provided, all at no cost. It’s is a very special day where children with ASD interact with their peers and can show-off their capabilities to their families.
The first annual N. Georgia Surfers For Autism Event at Tybee Island, GA just happened last Saturday, July 23rd, but here are some future, upcoming events planned:
August 13, 2011: The 2nd Annual Inlet Surfers for Autism, Ponce Inlet, FL
August 27, 2011: The 2nd Annual 1st Coast Surfers for Autism, St. Augustine Beach, FL
September 24, 2011: The 2nd Annual North Coast Surfers for Autism, Jacksonville Beach, FL
October 15, 2011: The 1st Annual Gulf Coast Surfers for Autism, Ft. Myers Beach (Area), FL
For more information, visit their website at http://www.surfersforautism.org.