SUNNY ISLES (CBSMiami) — Surf’s up for hundreds of autistic children in Sunny Isles over the weekend.
Roughly 300 kids spent the day in the sun, sand and sea as part of a free surfing camp.
Surfers Healing, a nationwide, grassroots non-profit organization, celebrated 20 years of free surf camps for children diagnosed with autism, including its 4-year anniversary in South Florida.
“It’s everything,” said Limor Asaf, who took her son Adam to the beach. “He’s enjoying it so much. I mean, I’m shocked that he even went there because it’s so scary for mommy and it’s wavey, but he just had a blast. And the people are so professional, they really know what they’re doing.”
Founded in 1996, the program has been teaching children with autism how to surf, from San Diego to Rhode Island, as well as in Mexico and Puerto Rico.
“Our daylong camps are about acceptance, respite, and fun,” said Co-Founder Israel Paskowitz, son of surfing legend and Stanford M.D. Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz. “Surfing isn’t a cure for autism, but you’d be surprised at the difference a day at the beach can make.”
Assigned to tandem with professional surfers, each child got the chance to hop on a surfboard to ride the waves.
“Even though we had 4,500+ participants at our surf camps last year, and even though autism now affects 1 in 68 US children, we don’t think in thousands. We think in ones, because that’s where we can effect change. One child. One family. One day at the beach,” he added.