What do children with Autism, Down Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, Cerebral Palsy, and Severe ADHD have in common? Despite the challenges life throws at them, they can all turn to surfing as a respite. In their own way, they are all surfers.
Recently, 20 families with special needs children gathered along California’s Central Coast in Pismo Beach to attend a three-day surf camp offered to them by Indo Jax Surf Charities. Children with “other abilities” learned that with proper instruction and support they can enjoy the ocean in ways they may never have thought possible.
Indo Jax is an organization headquartered in Wilmington, North Carolina, where children and families impacted by Autism, Down Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, Cerebral Palsy, Severe ADHD, Cancer, and Visual Impairments are offered opportunities to join a surf camp. They’ve brought children on both coasts in the U.S. into the water, as well as bringing their camps to India, Panama, Nicaragua, and even Norway. Surfing isn’t the goal, though. It’s a tool used to build self-esteem and confidence in children society sometimes ignores.
So often, children with special needs are excluded from activities the rest of us take for granted. That’s why the big lesson of this three-day camp was, “If I can surf, I can do anything.”
Many amazing accomplishments were witnessed throughout the camp. A young man with Cerebral Palsy named Alex went from riding into shore on his belly to standing with the help of instructors. Blake, a repeat student with Down Syndrome progressed from only wanting to sit on his board to eventually riding tandem.
“These are the best days of his life,” Blake’s dad said on the beach.