What would your first thought be if you saw the headline above in the paper?
Web surfing maybe, watching You Tube videos, Facebook, Snapchat, Vine, or Twitter? Not in this case.
I had the privilege of watching a myriad of volunteers, including a large group of teenagers, take time on a Saturday to devote their efforts to assisting Surfers with Autism. They invite Special Needs kids, along with those who have Autism, from all over Florida and Georgia to gather for one day to learn to surf in the warm waters of the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico.
Children are separated into groups and provided with three thirty minute surfing sessions. The volunteers take the kids out in the water about 30 – 40 feet from shore and wait for the perfect wave. When the right one breaks, it’s paddle, paddle, paddle, and then they pop up. Or at least up they try!
– Do some of them wipe out? Of course, who doesn’t when they surf? Someone is always there to help them back up.
– Do some kids stand up? They do! Over and over again.
– Do they all have fun? Without a doubt!
The shore full of adults cheering them on with each milestone is truly motivating.
The young lady pictured here, along with her mom (not pictured), are dear friends of my family.
When asked about the event, her mother replied, “These are win/win situations for all. Who cannot win when you have a group of teenagers assisting my daughter making her feel like one of the gang? At the same time, they are providing her with some shining examples of servant hearts, something you rarely hear about today’s youth.”
I would be remiss if I did not mention the Ponce Inlet Fire and Police Departments. They encouraged the kids to express their artistic sides and provided water paints, a fire truck, and a police cruiser to paint anyway they liked. The kids were thrilled to be able to decorate both vehicles.
I realized that surfing is a lot like life. Many times you fall, and if you are lucky, someone is there to help you back up. When you learn to stand on your own, the ride has only just begun. I look forward to our next surfing event in Naples in October. If you are near Naples, Florida in October, surf on down to watch this great event.