On Friday, August 17th and Saturday, August 18th, 2019, approximately 500 children with autism attended Surfers Healing camp in Virginia Beach, Virginia. This two-day summer camp provides surf therapy for those with autism, allowing them to challenge themselves and develop new skills with the staff, volunteers, and other children.
The co-founder of the organization, Izzy Paskowitz, has a son on the spectrum and tells News3, “That’s where the magic happens. There is a calming, there is a decompression, there is a sensory thing — and autism is a sensory disorder. So sight, sound, taste, touch, smell all envelop the kids.” Surfing encompasses many parts of the body, both physically and mentally, which promotes positive development and independence for the children.
The joy of Surfers Healing can be seen in 15-year-old Jacob Arbeen, who has been attending the camp for eight years. Arbeen’s mother recounts the first year that he participated in the surf therapy to News3 – “I remember the very first time we came here was in 2011. The morning after, he woke up and said, ‘Go surfing again.’ I mean, I had not heard that many words strung together in a sentence.”
As his love for surfing has grown, so has his vocabulary. This weekend, he told News3, “I like to swim and surf,” to effectively express his enthusiasm of his time at summer camp. The waves provide a therapeutic experience for those with autism and has empowered both the children and their parents that anything is possible.
For more information about Surfers Healing and how to get involved, please click here.