A Walk on Water is a non-profit group that takes special needs people surfing as a method of therapy and healing. The methods are amazing, the process heroic and the results are as legitimate as any other kind of therapy, perhaps more so. What it entails is that a surf teacher rides a massive board, usually a paddle board, with one of the special needs people or athletes on the front of it with them. We introduce them to the board and the ocean, gain their trust, bring them into the ocean with us and expose them to the joy and elation that we all experience when riding surges of liquid energy through space and time.
This year, as the kids say these days, was one for the books. We all gathered at Ditch Plains in Montauk where perfect 2 foot waves rolled in past the jetty onto a perfect sandbar that seemed tailor made for the task at hand. Everyone works as a team to get the athletes ready to meet us instructors at the shore.
I’ve just spent the last two weeks surfing every day after a pretty legitimate fall start off swell. After surfing so much again, its easy to reflect on all of the amazing aspect of surfing. The excitement, the exercise, the joy, the road trips with friends, the blowing off work, the laughter, the freedom etc. But during the course of the last two weeks, there is a particular appendage of surf life that I probably value the most, one that is talked about the least.
Many times it is a challenge. Many times the person is scared, or resistant. Many times they don’t communicate the way we do. Grunts, gestures and demeanor taking the place of words and eye contact.
Once we break that wall or bridge that gap, we take our athlete by the hand and lead them out into the water. We paddle them into the lineup where we all sit together, hoot and laugh, introducing our athletes to the beauty and surreal wonder of floating on and flying around mother ocean. We catch waves and share that magical mystery of the internal fire for life that surfing stokes. And in that stoke is the therapy. In that stoke is the healing and it is a true witnessable healing.
I’ve seen first hand how a child could go from kicking and screaming to skipping and laughing. I’ve seen first hand a child who I thought couldn’t form sentences start speaking perfect english to me. I’ve seen hurdles leaped over and preconceived notions shattered. I’ve seen people laughing and crying for joy all at once.
I’ve seen individuals and families transformed in a moment and transformed forever, for the better.
To learn more about A Walk on Water visit: https://awalkonwater.org/