OCEAN CITY, Md. – On Wednesday, some magic happened out on the water in Ocean City. Kids who haven’t spoken in days, months, or even years spent the day laughing and connecting with others on the beach.
This was all part of the 10th annual Surfers Healing event in Ocean City, an event that allows kids with autism to catch some waves with pro surfers from around the world.
Andrew Zaukus, one of the kids participating said, “It was very good, it was very great.”
Henry Anhalt, another participant added, “It feels good!”
Kids with autism often experience episodes of sensory overload, but when they are out on the water, all of that just seems to wash away.
Izzy Paskowytz, the co-founder of Surfers Healing said, “The combination of all the senses kind of hit at once. Sight, sound, taste, touch, smell and I know there’s a therapeutic effect from it.”
Julie Lang, a mom attending the event said, “When you have all this going on around you, the ocean is a place you can be, and really the noises fade away because of the ocean waves and the rhythm.”
For parents, this event often causes a wave of emotions to come over them.
Lang said she felt, “Tearful and joyful and proud.”
This incredible event is largely made possible by Pro Surfer Izzy Paskowytz whose own son has autism.
Paskowytz struggled to accept his son’s autism for years, until he got him on a surf board and realized he didn’t have to grow up to be a pro surfer, he just needed to be able to laugh and experience joy on the water.
Paskowytz said, “This was something that he could do, but who cares that he wasn’t a champion like his dad? As long as we went in the water and we had a great time and we connected and he was happy.”
Those feelings of happiness are what inspired Paskowytz to start Surfers Healing.
“This is my cause and it feels good and it feels so right and I’m so blessed to be here,” he said.
Overall, this event teaches kids that while you can’t stop the waves, you can always learn to surf.
This event doesn’t just take place in Ocean City. Surfers Healing Camps are held all across the world all year long. The next event is scheduled to take place in Virginia Beach on Friday.