6 ISSUES FOR JUST £6 Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

Waterlines: Get Surfing!

16:12 20 August 2010

Waterlines: Get Surfing!

Waterlines: Get Surfing!

Surfing is changing the lives of children with autism and learning difficulties.

Breaking the Barrier is a unique one-day event introducing youngsters, aged 8-25, with disabilities to the experience of surfing and the thrill of actually riding a wave.


It all began a few years ago when some American surfers came over to the UK from Long Island to demonstrate how they were teaching less able kids to surf and giving them a freedom and experience that theyd remember forever.


2010 will be the fourth year Richard Hanlon has organised this event for the Devon-based charity Lifeworks. Normally autistic kids wont even get wet, let alone have a go at surfing, explains Richard. This event allows children with learning difficulties to surf in a safe but extraordinary environment. Far from any normal routine, they take to the ocean waves and it is plain to see from the smiles on their faces that this chance is a very special one for the children and their families.


Richard explains how children with autism and learning difficulties really open up once in the water and in the surf. Being in the water, and in a different environment, unlocks some things for children with autism and other learning difficulties. They relax, they can express themselves a little easier and communication that is often lacking might become a little easier.


Sometimes, to start with, some of them dont even want to put a wetsuit on. Then after 45 minutes in the water they dont want to come out of the sea!

We try and get as many new people involved each year, says Richard, and sometimes, to start with, some of them dont even want to put a wetsuit on. Then after 45 minutes in the water they dont want to come out of the sea!


Lifeworks organises the Bigbury-on-Sea event in association with local surf instructors from Discovery Surf School. To be able to put 130 kids through a surf lesson on one day is a massive achievement, and families travel from all over the region to take part.


Living with autism and special needs can be very isolating, and can dominate family life. But getting siblings and whole families surfing together means that problems can get put aside for a day. Children noticeably gain confidence, whether it is a ten-year-old boy with autism or his older sister who just enjoys trying out a new sport for the first time.


Katy Absons son Bailey is autistic and is fanatical about superheroes, amongst other things. Spending a day outside like this is a great opportunity for him to see that the rest of the world is out there. Its also nice for my daughter, Libby, to have a chance to do something she can share with her brother. She can share in something that is predominantly about having a special need but in a positive way. It really is just breaking down the barriers.
Standing on the beach watching their children, its great for parents to share this experience with other families, and it is such an encouraging way of giving support.


Its not just the families that feel rewarded at the end of the day. Lifeworks recruit a brilliant team of surf instructors and wetsuit-clad volunteers to help out on the day. Rachel Bell has volunteered for the past three years and will be back on the beach with the kids this September. I think this is the most impacting thing that I have ever done. It seems to get through to kids who might otherwise feel quite cut off, explained Rachel. You can see a little smile and see that theyre having a positive reaction to surfing.


You can see a little smile and see that theyre having a positive reaction to surfing


Last year, this event was rolled out to six different locations across the UK in Wales, Kent, Norfolk, Dorset, Cornwall and Devon with over 800 children benefitting. Rather then intending to provide formal lessons, the specialist instructors offer each child the chance to experience the thrill of riding together on a wave in tandem and, where possible, they have a go at standing up on the board.


At the end of the day, theyre just children having fun, and hopefully theyll leave with lasting memories of surfing for the first time. As mother Katy Abson said: I dont think any of the children have noticed the fact that it is a special needs event as far as theyre concerned they have come surfing and thats it.


19 September
Breaking the Barrier
Bigbury-on-Sea, South Devon. Free.
To reserve a place or volunteer at the event contact Richard Hanlon on 01803 840744,
rhanlon@lifeworks-uk.org, www.lifeworks-uk.org

0 comments

Shop with us at Great British Life

More from People

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Former New Zealand rugby union player Sean Fitzpatrick will be guest of honour at the Exeter Sporting Club Dinner

The organiser of a premier sporting dinner taking place in Exeter this month has been forced to bring a late substitute onto the order of play for the evening…but what a substitute he is

Read more
Friday, January 22, 2016
Michael Wignall

He’s the new executive head chef at Devon’s top dining spot – Gidleigh Park –where he plans to bring a more modern twist to the food served there. SUSAN CLARK went to meet him

Read more
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Lowe and Bespoke at Crediton

Lee Andrews has turned a childhood passion for making things into a bespoke kitchen business in the heart of Devon

Read more
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Accident and Emergency consultant Chris Manlow: 'We have such highs and lows in a very demanding job but Im so proud to work with the team here'

In a new series throughout 2016 in Devon Life, Kate Haskell celebrates the people that make Devon work. This month: Accident and Emergency consultant Chris Manlow

Read more
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Voice coach Sandra Smith: 'A singer’s job is to remind an audience to reconnect, to stay in touch with themselves and a good singer can make a simple scale sound like a whole story - just through tone, expression and intent'

She’s the talented tutor whose work is displayed on some of the grandest stages – yet remains unseen. But Sandra Smith also revels in her work on a more local level, as Alexis Bowater discovers

Read more
Monday, December 28, 2015
Claire Goose with her co-star in The Coroner Matt Bardock, who plays detective Davey Higgins

BBC daytime crime drama The Coroner has hit our screens after months filming in the most beautiful parts of Devon and it certainly left an impression with its star Claire Goose as Kate Haskell discovers

Read more
Monday, November 16, 2015
Artist Sue with finished Stella, flagship rhino for Paignton Zoo.

Take a look at Paignton Zoo’s colourful conservation fundrasing project.

Read more
Monday, November 16, 2015
Jenny Kane

Costa Tiverton to host best-selling author book-signing 6pm-9pm, Monday 23rd November

Read more
Thursday, November 12, 2015

With her signature free-motion stitching, designer Karen Walshe captures the essence of the elegant wading birds and tranquil scenery of the River Exe. We posed 10 questions to find out more about her coastal-inspired textiles and a deep seated love for the South West

Read more
Monday, November 9, 2015
Kevin Carr: 'I never reach my limit, I just keep going; I like to see how far you can go'

Back from the amazing feat of running round the world in record time, Kevin Carr is contemplating his next big challenge, as he explains his motivation to Alexis Bowater

Read more
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Sculptor of Sido

Anyone who believes traditional sculpture is out of touch with modern culture may want to think again – for Devon artist Andrew Sinclair has helped make a German rap music sensation.

Read more
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Old vs new on Hexworthy Bridge

Could you trek 100 miles across rocky terrain with more than 20kg on your back? Well two very special creatures have done just that. Accompanied by a trio of brave humans, on October 16 Dartmoor ponies Billy and Jasmine set off on a week-long hike to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust (DPHT).

Read more
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Breakthrough

Hepzibah McLeod is proof that a little bit of financial assistance at the right time can pave the way for success in the future.

Read more
Monday, October 5, 2015
Mary Berry and fellow Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood. (Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon)

Millions tune in to see the Queen of Baking share her culinary wisdom each week on The Great British Bake Off – but how much do you really know about judge and food writer Mary Berry?

Read more


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad
subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Devon's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search