Back at Oceanside today to meet with Carl and some of his buddies who run an adaptive surf club for people with disabilities called Waves4all and he’d invited me to come along and help out for the day. Got there just after 8am and it was already busy on the beach, with families having a day out, folk just out for an early morning ride as well as beachcombers, walkers and the odd hobo here and there.
We set up the beach pavilion and put down matting and tiles to enable wheelchair access from the car park to the sand and got a fire going in one of the pits provided. Not long after a few folk started turning up, rolling up to the pavilion and getting into their wetsuits and then we were down to the water. The team have a number of boards specially made from a light and toughened polymer, with grab handles and a top surface which is rougher than the usual board so that there is extra grip. The first couple of folk lay on the boards and us helpers were there to work in relay to get them from the shore and out to the waves – someone at the shoreline to push out to waist depth and then pass on to another helper with flippers on to paddle out. Once in the breaking water, release the board and send them rushing to the beach, where the folk in the shallows catch them and take them back out. Simple. Effective. Successful.
Food was supplied throughout the day, subs, bagels, pastries, cupcakes, muffins – all essential to keep energy levels up – and during a lull I was able to get out and ride a few myself. So all in all, a really great and satisfying day, lots of people involved and many wanting to give it a go. There were folk with cerebral palsy, Down’s, prosthetic limbs, blindness etc, a truly inspiring day and the smiles said it all – riding waves makes you happy.