On April 6, 2013, Atlanta Chapter member, Patrick Lynch, volunteered with Surfers for Autism, a Florida organization which introduces autistic children to the sports of surfing and paddle boarding. SFA was formed in 2007 with the mission to unlock the potential of people with developmental delays, support advocacy for autism issues, and scientific research. The organization will do a total of 14 events in 2013, most of which are spread out across coastal Florida. Teams of 2-4 skilled surfers and or waterman/woman take each participant out in to the ocean to learn the fundamentals of surfing and enjoy a little stoke. Each event is a very special day where children with autism spectrum disorders interact with typical peers and wow families with their capabilities. These events are examples of inclusion at the highest level.
This is the second year volunteering with SFA for Patrick and the first of event of the 2013 season. When asked about his experiences volunteering with SFA this is what Patrick had to say:
“I was introduced to autism in late 2011, when spending a week with a friend who was working an autistic teenager. I left changed by the experience and started looking for ways to volunteer and get involved. I stumbled across Surfers for Autism when doing some late night “googling” and it seemed like a perfect marriage of being in the water and doing good. After the first event I attended in Treasure Island Florida, I realized I got as much out of the experience as I was giving. It’s less of an organization and more of a family, where all the participants and their families can have a day at the beach in a truly judgment free environment. It’s amazing to see how a sensory experience like being in the ocean on a board, can work magic with these children. There is no greater definition of stoke than having a non-verbal child speak his first words as a result of what we are doing; it’s an emotional and joyous moment.”