Gnome Surf crashed upon the shores in Southern New England like a mighty wave of benevolence. If you haven’t been introduced to this amazing organization, then allow me to place it front and center. I learned of Gnome Surf years ago, five to be exact, but my immersive exposure was not granted until this summer. I am the mother of a now, 9 year old boy with autism. During the pandemic, if you tuned in to Easy 99.1’s South of Boston on Sunday mornings, you may have even caught our weekly episodes of Andrew’s Autistic World. In our weekly program and podcast, I opened my home and experiences as well as any information of resources to families who too were facing the overwhelming world of having a child with autism or special needs.
Andrew has always been a gross motor kid. He loves jumping on trampolines, running (too fast) and swimming. I’d been urged by many friends to take him to a Gnome Surf session. “Andrew will love it!” they chimed. Anyone who knows Andrew, knows he’s fearless and loves a physical challenge. He’s not completely non-verbal, but his communication and expressive language is severely delayed for that of a 9 year old. But happiness radiates…and as a parent, the ear to ear grin of your child needs no words. Your soul knows exactly when they are elated and in turn, so too does your heart melt. As a parent, their happiness is your happiness.
I watched Andrew in a few attempts at his first Gnome Surf session, really enjoy the therapeutic effects of being in the ocean, while feeding his daredevil spirit and confidence, riding the waves. So of course, we went back for another sesh. There he worked with founder of Gnome Surf, Chris Antao, to elevate the game. Andrew went from totally rad boogie boarder to Jeff Spicoli, my ultimate little surfer dude, before my very eyes. Finding the opportune waves, Chris popped Andrew up, making him confident in his surfing while supporting him safely.
Gnome Surf is a 501-C3. The origin story is not mine to tell, but what is spreading faster than most anticipated, is the growth and following of Surf Therapy across our beautiful New England Shores. If you live in Rhode Island or Southeastern Massachusetts, you can find sessions during the season, but sign up as soon as you can. From group sessions, to special events and even private lessons, the confidence and strength surf therapy provides to the neuro-diverse community is incredible. To support, get involved or find out more, visit their Facebook Page. Through the end of September, Rally 2 Give is matching donations in honor of their “5 years of Stoke!”. As a non-Profit organization, community support, volunteerism and involvement is integral to its survival. Make a difference….Do Good, Dream Big!
-By Deb Aguiar, Easy 99.1 GSM