Long Beach High School surfing is not the only way the district’s athletic department has incorporated the sport into its curriculum. During the fall, students with special needs who are enrolled in the district’s Life Skills Program spend parts of some school days learning to surf.
The program, which serves middle and high school students, is through “Surf for All” – a non-profit organization that seeks to introduce surfing to people of all levels.
“It’s adaptive surfing,” said Cliff Skudin, a sports teacher at Long Beach High School and a co-founder of “Surf For All.” “Truly, the mission is the sea, as a sense of healing and spiritual strength should be available to all. Surf therapy is what we do. It helps build self-confidence.”
Skudin continued: “It also has a social dynamic to lift each other’s moods and achieve something they normally never thought they would have the opportunity to try. Surfing is a lifelong sport. You could do it through all your years. So it really have a sense of community, to meet and overcome obstacles. “
Students were taken out on surfboards by instructors for one-on-one sessions.
“They teach you to swim and not to be afraid of the water,” said Dujuan Dawkins, an eighth-grader at Long Beach Middle School. “They do a good job. I’m not afraid of the water.”
Tom Gaynor, a teacher in the Life Skills program at Long Beach High School, said the program gives students confidence.
“They go a little differently after surfing,” Gaynor said. “They definitely smile from ear to ear after this … They become as independent as possible. These guys out there in the water, they help them, but they also release them at the same time.”
Ethan Flint in eighth grade said he was afraid he would fall into the water. But it only happened once, and he was still enjoying himself.
“I love it so much,” Flint said.
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