For many pro athletes, they start dreaming of playing their favorite sport with their little one the moment they find out they are going to have a baby. What better way is there to bond with a kiddo than through a shared interest (or passion, for the athlete).
Professional surfer, Isreal Paskowitz was thrilled when he learned he was going to have a baby boy with his wife, Danielle. But when his son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, he knew things would look a little different.
Those with autism have varying degrees of sensory issues. Oftentimes, things like loud noises, bright lights, the feel of certain fabrics, or even a tag in a tee shirt can cause an episode. Knowing this, Isreal thought there was no way he’d ever get his son on a surfboard in the loud, wet, ever-moving ocean.
Not wanting to give up, Isreal kept working with his son on getting comfortable in the ocean. Then, he eventually got him on a surfboard and found the sport actually calmed his son. He was so happy to develop that connection with his son, Isreal and wanted to help others. So his wife developed the non-profit organization, Surfers Healing.
Every year, surfers from all over the world come together to put on a “camp” for kids on the spectrum. They travel to a few places in the US and the organization has even expanded into other countries. It’s become so popular that they always have waitlists for their annual camps.
Families love to gather for this annual event, not only to watch their kids enjoy the water, but to connect with each other and share stories and support. These events have helped to create a community for families to lean on each other and give guidance through what can be a very difficult diagnosis to navigate. One mom said, “it’s such a wonderful feeling, as a parent, to know you can go and no matter what your child does people will understand, support and help you.”
While the community building is a tremendous perk, the kids get the greatest benefit from the organization. Each one of them gets to work one-on-one with a trained surfer who makes their ride safe and comfortable for them as an individual.
While watching the event, spectators can see a clear “calm” wash over the kids as they surf. There is something about all the sensory events happening at once that they cancel each other out and give the kids a sense of peace they don’t normally get in everyday life.
Isreal’s love for surfing and even greater love for his son was able to ignite a powerful movement that now spans the entire globe. By creating a safe space of understanding, community, and fun, Surfers Healing is changing thousands of lives and opening hearts with every stop of their camp tour.
See how much these kids love the camp in the video below and be sure to share this story with your friends.
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