[Ride a Wave - Creating Special Days for Kids With Special Needs]
  Beach News
Here are some writeups and comments from Ride a Wave participants and their families. These posts explain why the program exists.
[Robyn] Robyn's Day at the Beach

"Each person that volunteered their time for children they didn't even know - lugging over 40 surfboards from the parking lot across the sand - setting up canopy tents, food and drinks for the participants, a ton of wetsuits for all the kids, and just being so gentle and loving and careful with our children who have very special needs - has a very dear, dear place in my heart - forever more. They were all amazing, always smiling - and making our kids smile. Everyone was helpful and encouraging, and calmed any fears, pretty quickly, that any of the kids began to have. I was teary-eyed so much throughout the day - at the overwhemling joy I saw in each and every childs face, including mine!"
- Aarica, Robyn's Mom

[Hari] Ride a Wave II

It was my second Ride-A-Wave camp today, and it was indeed, pure delight repeated.

Enthusiastic Ride-A-Wave volunteers had set up shop early morning at Cowell's Beach in Santa Cruz and were waiting to give youth with disabilities a day packed with excitement.

The very helpful and bubbly Adrienne was once again my beach buddy. It was good to see some old friends like Dennis, Steiny and others from last year. After an intriguing lifeguard demonstration at the wharf, with the lifeguards jumping off the wharf much to the surprise of the audience, we were packed into our wetsuit, lifejacket and helmet.

Absolutely delicious is the feel of the cool ocean water that tingles the feet and face. Boogie boarding was re-experienced again and again with volunteers Grant and Amanda. Wave after wave of rolling waves swept the boogie board back toward the crash of waves on the shore.

Brooks let me have a go at rowing while taking me out on the kayak. That was definitely fun. We made it all the way to a bobbing buoy out at sea and circumnavigated it back to shore. All the while an inquisitive seal was keeping us company. The barks of frolicking seals and the cries of the seabirds above was a fitting accompaniment to the orchestral roar of the ocean.

Paul and Danny were my surfboard gurus. Surfing Oh what a glorious feel it has, even for the novice like me. Surrounded by nothing but sea and the great cliffs in sight, riding the waves is a heady and thrilling experience indeed.

The awards handed out at the end of the event was just a bonus and fitting finale for the blessed out participants.

Noble are the youth at the beach
Weighed down by, Oh their disabilities
Whether with their walking or with their talking
Eagerly do the youth await
A day of opportunity and excitement
That awaits them on the Ride-A-Wave day.

- Hari 2008

More from Hari: journal4hari.blogspot.com

[Hari & Dennis] Peninsula Parents of Special Needs Kids

Dear Ride a Wave,
Our group has been buzzing all week from our wonderful day on Saturday. We shared all our photos online (tons of them!) and compared experiences. Everyone had an amazing time. We want you to know how much it means to us that you do this for our kids. You give our families something much more special than a day at the beach. We are so grateful.

Until next year,
Peninsula Parents of Special Needs Kids (PPSNK)

Comments from the group:

My kids have been saying all week, "I'm not surfing.." Well, sure enough, they did end up surfing due to their volunteers being so patient and making them feel safe. One of my kids expressed fear of drowning out there and my other child is so afraid of failure. They both came away from the experience feeling like a winner with the medal and all! It was an awesome, memorable day for our family. Thanks for making this happen!

We just cannot say enough 'Thank You" to RAW for organizing such a wonderful event for our kids. RAW and its volunteers are such amazing people, full of patience, love and so fun to be with. Since we came back from surfing, my 8-yr-old daughter Nicole has said several times "I miss John" (John was her beach buddy) - you know our kids, when they say something, they mean it 100%. Missing someone that she spent only 3 hours with? I wouldn't have believed it if I wasn't there!

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I never thought my little guy would participate so thoroughly in the days activities. I just couldn't take my eyes off my extrememly happy little boy. Check him out on the boogie board!@!!!!
- The PROUDEST mom on the planet!

I just want to underscore what has been said about the awesome Ride-a-Wave program we experienced for the first time this weekend. My son and I enjoyed it beyond what words can express! it was run and organized so well. thank you for making it all possible!! Happy Mother's day to all of you awesome women and many thanx for your endless support
..you'll NEVER know!!

Miles had a great time again with RAW and Reid's ready to surf next year! My thanks to Susan/PPSNK/RAW for another great opportunity and another truly happy day for our family.

It was truly an amazing day. Jonathan had so much fun. He drew a picture of himself with a big smile and said that was Jonathan surfing. Took it to school to show off. The RAW volunteers were terrific. Very good with the kids and very caring.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, -- this was an incredible event! The program is so well-organized and the volunteers really know how to make it successful for the kids. I was praying that the combination of cold morning fog together with the tight, sandy wetsuit wouldn't do us in, but our beach buddy was patient and funny and put us all at ease. Lauren not only got up on the board the first time, she went back for a second pass and Danny let her stand up and ride the wave on her own! We all had such a good time we ended up spending the rest of the day in Santa Cruz. Thanks also for sharing your really cute pictures -- we'll never forget this.

Our second year, and it's STILL just simply amazing. What a great group of people/volunteers with such a great attitude.

WOW! What an amazing day we had with Ride a Wave! These surfers are a truly amazing group of volunteers. They knocked themselves out to give our kids a day to remember.

Please pass my thanks to the RAW folks. They were awesome (it took 3 of them to get Marlin's gear on but they did it!) and I enjoyed a few hours to myself. Adrian, Marlin's buddy was kind, loving and spent the day following Marlin around ensuring he was safe and he enjoying the outing. She didn't push him and I was fine with that given his current rigidity but I know one day he will surf again!

My son had a great time. His buddy and the other volunteers were each very supportive and patient. I couldn't believe how much he was willing to try. We are so grateful for their time and offering this experience.

I envied him! He spent the entire week-end telling anyone who would listen that he went surfing at the beach and he is very proud of the medal he earned.

What a blast we had with Ride-A-Wave!

As we headed over 17 to Santa Cruz on Saturday, we were so excited to be returning for a wonderful day with Ride-a-wave. Jeffrey was all excited about the beach and seeing his buddies again. From the moment we arrived, we knew it was going to be another perfect day. We were greeted by wonderful staff at the desk who searched high and low until they found Neal - Jeffrey's buddy from last year. Was Jeffrey excited when he saw Neal, especially when he got to see him 'jump' off the pier!!! Neal was so amazingly patient with Jeffrey on the beach.....he worked miracles to get Jeffrey one foot at a time down to the ocean....leaving a scooting path along the way. It was truly a heart-warming and joy-filled site, as Jeffrey finally stood up and ran the remaining 10 feet to the ocean. Neal - you are so awesome! And then Jeffrey had the ride of his life in his throne on Mike's surf board. Jim ran down the beach to catch it all on video from the sea cliff, and we'd love to share it with you. Mike you are so caring!

Jeffrey sure loved his photo with his two beach buddies - and we will all love the memories that we will have forever of a perfect day. Devon, Jeffrey's big sister, was so glad to be a part of the day this year, and we will all look forward to next year. We will come by this summer to say hi too!

"I LOVE IT! Especially since they said I'm a Natural!!"
- Adrian

He just beams at how much fun he had and that they said, really really you're a natural paddler and surfer. So important to our guys that seem to always be working on something either in therapy or at home. Reminds me to celebrate even the small things that he does well, and there are many of those things. Good reminder to me to not always focus on the negatives, which is so hard to do especially before IEPs which is where we're at now.

[Hari & Dennis] Ride a Wave

Went to the Ride a Wave camp today. Bearing in mind that I yearn for the beauty of the ocean, understandably I looked forward to having a great time.

Noisy eager kid did not know how to lie down for boogie board initially, hindering dear boy's enjoyment of the waves. By the time I went boogie boarding later with Dennis, irrefutable total delight swept over my heart. My head heard dear ocean's call to come ride yet another determined wave that swept us gloriously back on the sand each time.

Notably surfing definitely deadly fun. Dear volunteers taught me how to lie down and paddle. Near the cliffs ascending the harmonious waves began. Beautiful harmony effectively existed between the surfer and the great waves. Giddy with joyous happiness was I standing on the surfboard, dear ocean surrounding me. Fear vanished, destroyed by mother nature's goodness. Definitely dream come true for me.

Veteran kayaker Chris took me out to sea in the kayak. Could not take my eyes off the ship and the sea. dear volunteer took me further than others. Unsatiated need for ocean fulfilled at least for this day.

Adrienne was my lovely beach buddy with the heart of a poet. Understood sensible kids needs and encouraged youngsters. Veritable delight was this day for me.

- Hari 2007

More from Hari: journal4hari.blogspot.com


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