Every parent can relate to the helplessness that Izzy and Danielle Paskowitz felt as they watched their young son lose himself in a tantrum at the beach one day. But not every parent would have arrived at their impromptu solution, which was to toss their son into the ocean to disrupt his internal storm and by accident, discover his love of the water.
From that dramatic moment emerged Surfers Healing, an organization founded by the Paskowitzes to enrich the lives of people living with autism by exposing them to the joy of playing in the ocean and riding its waves.
Since 1996, Surfers Healing has offered free, one-day camps to children from California to Rhode Island, even Puerto Rico. It now operates 21 camps in 8 states for up to 5000 children each year. The program relies on 40 core volunteer surfer-instructors, including surfing luminaries such as Garrett McNamara, Kelly Slater and Clay Marzo, who is on the autism spectrum.
Izzy, a competitor himself, calls the camps “extreme special ed” that brings “respite, acceptance and fun” to kids with autism and their families. That is clearly evident in this video. Enjoy!
Surfers Healing celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. It is one of nearly 50 organizations in 21 states that received a grant from NEXT for AUTISM’s 2015 Night of Too Many Stars event. The organization plans to grow attendance by ten percent, bring more surfers on board, and expand to more locations with local partners. www.surfershealing.org for this summer’s schedule of free camps.