Thursday, June 30, 2016

#OnePerfectDay with Surfers Healing 🏄

DISCLAIMER: This is not a sponsored post.
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Hello, everyone! ♥

To be completely honest, I am still not entirely comfortable talking about the subject of Autism or our personal journey with it. Primarily because it's all still too new to us and we're still seeking answers to a lot of questions we have. But, I am opening up about it a little bit more because I hope it will help other families like ours who are new to this disorder and want to help out their child(ren) develop as best as possible in a world that seems overwhelming, scary or doesn't believe them to be everything they can be... I will, in due time, go into more detail about our experience with Autism. For now, let me share with you our experience with Surfers Healing.

What is Surfers Healing?
Surfers Healing is a non-profit foundation that seeks "to enrich the lives of people living with autism by exposing them to the unique experience of surfing". This organization was founded by former pro-surfer Izzy Paskowitz and his wife Danielle after their son Isaiah was diagnosed with Autism at the age of three.  Surfers Healing teaches children in the Autism Spectrum to surf. The surf camps are free of charge to the kids' families and include camps all over the world. 

I totally recommend you watch this video if you want to learn more about this Surfers Healing, how they came to be and why they continue their wonderful work with children with Autism:

VIDEO DISCLAIMER: This video is the property of the Oprah Winfrey Network.  It has been embedded into this blog post with permission. The views and statements expressed in this video are those of Surfers Healing and OWN and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of i♥offbeat, its ownership, management or employees.


I don't exactly remember how exactly we learned about Surfers Healing but, after learning about them, I did extensive research to make sure they were legit. And they are. Since their camps in California had just happened by the time we found out about them, I kept my eyes open and followed them all over social media for this year's events. Previously, it was a first-come/first-serve registration; however, starting this year, you register your child and there is a lottery to pick the children. I entered Simon's information as soon as registration opened up without thinking much of it (I rarely win anything) and just sort of thought "The worse that can happen is he doesn't get a spot". I said a little prayer and let it go. A few weeks passed before we got anything from them. Then, one day, we got an email...



We received a 2nd email a couple weeks prior to the event with additional information about the event, Simon's surfing time & group, what to expect, when to arrive, where to go, etc.

FINALLY!
The day of Surfers Healing came...

I was so excited that I woke up super early that morning to finalize everything for the day:
Prepped an extra couple sets of clothes for the boys + towels
Got snacks and drinks in case the boys wanted a little something at the beach
Left an extra hour early from our place to make sure we had enough time to arrive in case of traffic

When we finally got there, I checked us in, got Simon's gifts & bracelet, our lunch tickets, and found a small place to setup a little play area for us. I meant to take pictures of the camp, but I was too excited for the day that I completely forgot. I was sooo excited that I even forgot to put on SPF and, now a 1½ weeks later, I'm peeling like a snake. Not pretty, people.

#OnePerfectDay with Surfers Healing | iheartoffbeat
The loves of my life! ♥

We had lunch (provided by the event) since Simon was scheduled for 12 pm, but there was only one x-small life jacket and another child who was in the water was using it. We hung out and played in the ocean and sand for a little while before going back to try again. Even though we came super prepared with everything we could think of, all families were provided with a small lunch, snacks & beverages (all healthy, I might add). We thought it was really nice that they were so considerate of the families too. It was such a nice gesture!

Lucas playing in the sand

Lunch Time! 🍔

After waiting for about 20 minutes after getting in line again, it was finally Simon's turn. He was super patient the entire time and very well-behaved (a happy surprise!). A couple of volunteers get his life jacket on and then he gets taken by a couple surfers to get on the surfboard and into the water. Through the whole thing, he was super calm. He didn't say a thing, but we could tell he was very curious as to what was happening.

Getting his life jacket on

Off to the ocean they go... 🏄



I genuinely thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. Instead, both the Mr. & I were mostly excited he was going to experience surfing for the first time. Not gonna lie -- I choked up. I was so happy Simon was going to experience the ocean in a whole new & exciting way. He is a water baby and has always loved the ocean. This was taking it to the next level. It was perfect.

While we were waiting for him, we noticed children who are overwhelmed, scared or overly anxious are prioritized while waiting in line. I loved that they made sure parents were comforted while their children were taken into the water. Every single volunteer there was calm but experienced, comfortable but alert. They knew what they were doing and how to handle the children in their particular situations. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was happy to be there and to help.

We can never act normal 😂

After heading out to the ocean, a couple of small waves pushed Simon & his surfer off the board. We could tell from shore Simon got scared, but he was fine. At some point in time, he was switched to another surfer who calmed him down & actually got him to surf towards shore a couple of times. The video footage at the end of this blog post that shows how the entire surfing experience happened for Simon and how it looked to us from the shore. The kids are out on the ocean for about 30 minutes and about 200-250 ft. from the shore.


Unfortunately, siblings aren't allowed to go in the water because of insurance reasons. In our case, we lucked out because Lucas is like a cat in water - he prefers to stay on solid ground than to go out in the ocean. He preferred to stay on the beach and play with the soft waves coming in.


After about 45 minutes, Simon came back to shore. His poor little body was freezing! We took a couple of quick pix with his surfer, got his participation certificate and trophy. Then, we took his shivering little body to get wrapped up in warm towels under the sun right away.

Simon & his Surfers Healing team

My love back on shore 💞


Simon carried his trophy proudly and stared at it for a long time while he dried off back in our little area. He really enjoyed the experience & we couldn't be more proud of him. As he calmed down, I asked him if he liked going surfing & he just kept saying "Surfing! Surfing!" with a big smile on his face. It warmed our heart. He loved it! ♥


Thank you to Surfers Healing & the entire Paskowitz Family! 💗



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