Soothing Surf with Surfers healing
Last week Raglan hosted a significant Surfers Healing event at Ngarunui beach. Surfers Healing is a foundation that organises opportunities for children with Autism to experience the power of surfing. Local Ian Reeder is the man behind bringing the event to Whaingaroa and Jacqui from the Local Rag caught up with him to learn more.
How did Surfers Healing begin? Who was the founder and how did you become involved?
I have been surfing for 55 years and 33 years ago I met the founder of Surfers Healing, Izzy Paskowitz when he was a pro surfer. We became life long friends. Izzy married Danielle and they had a family and his son Isaiah was diagnosed with Autism.
Izzy was finding Isaiah challenging and while he was having a tantrum at the beach he decided to slip him on a board and paddle out with him. Instantly Isiaah responded positively and a ‘calmness came over him’. He developed a bond with his son during surfing and from there The Surfers Healing foundation was born over 22 years ago. It has now currently running in 6 countries including Whaingaroa, New Zealand.
It was the perfect day for it and there was a large turn out. Apart from families who else gets involved and supports the foundation?
The Surfers are all volunteers and come from Hawaii, California, Puerto Rico and Aotearoa. In the US alone there are 12 yearly events where over 3000 children with Autism are taken out surfing. Surfers Healing is a non profit organization and all events are free of charge. This is our 4th year in Raglan and each year we are attracting bigger numbers.
I moved to Raglan 5 years ago and really wanted this to be a reality for this great town. Two of our surfers who travel the world with Surfers Healing went to the Raglan Surf academy: Levi Stewart and Morgan Munro.
I was impressed to see so many kids thriving on the experience and really confident on the boards. Why do you think it’s so effective for Children with Autism?
The experience of the ocean has a profound effect on these children and in many cases as I have heard from the parents, when the kids come in from the surf they are smiling and more elevated that usual.
Izzy says in a great You Tube clip called ‘Surfers Healing the Izzy Paskowitz story’ that the sensation and the smell of the ocean mellowed out his son’s behavior.
The power of this event is incredible for all who participate. Occasionally some kids are fearful of being taken out in the ocean but the experience of the surfers in handling this overrides their anxiety. After the first wave usually you see this beaming smile with the anxiety completely gone.
When is the next event in Raglan and if local children wanted to be involved what should they do?
We plan on this being an annual event and of course encourage anyone in our community with a child with autism to participate.
For more info on upcoming events please contact Surfers Healing website or you can email Ian Reeder at firstname.lastname@example.org
Who supports you locally to help put on such an important event?
Local Kaumatuas Sean Ellison and Shirley Waitere came along to kindly support us and bless the event.
Greenwave Surf School from Raglan have supported us with boards and help for the past four years . Without their help we wouldn’t have been able to put our event on.
Local Tessa Randrup volunteers and helps us out with instructing.
All images Copyright Shea Caplice