Riding a wave: Surfing spreads delight and creates awareness of those with special needs
A meeting between friends three years ago has resulted in an event that makes it possible for people with Down syndrome and special needs to experience the joys of surfing.
It was three years ago that Yani Trout, a surf instructor for Nexgen Surf School, was approached by his friend Yolanda Peterson who was affiliated with the Shumeez Scott Foundation. The foundation works with children and young adults who have autism and Down syndrome.
Peterson asked Trout to partner with the foundation in hosting a beach day where the instructor would teach the children to surf. From this discussion, the Nexgen Surf for Down syndrome and special needs people event was born.
This past weekend, the foundation, based in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town, brought parents and their children to Muizenberg for this year’s surf day.
Foundation secretary Nardia Hercules, who was attending her second surfing event, said the stigma attached to special needs people was very real. She said she wanted to encourage those with special needs to come out and not stay at home, adding that events like this created awareness in society.
“Seeing so many happy, excited people has made me decide to try surfing next year. If they can do it, then so can I,” she said with a smile.