‘Special-needs’ children go surfing

2015-05-20 06:00
Luke Lotto charges the wave with the assistance of Toti volunteer surfers.
Photo: ISO Media

Luke Lotto charges the wave with the assistance of Toti volunteer surfers. Photo: ISO Media

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ON a recent Sunday morning, despite windy, cold and overcast conditions, a crew of Amanzimtoti volunteer surfers took four brave “special-needs” children from The Open Air School for a surf session at Addington Beach. Surfers and volunteers led the children into the water for a chance to experience something so many of us take for granted - the joy of riding a wave.

Luke Lotter, a Grade 6 pupil, paralysed from the waist, was carried to the water by Geoff Obes, Sean Franken and Sean De Bruyn, where the rest of the Toti crew were waiting to push him through the waves on a body board. Luke rode a dozen waves from the backline to the shore, to his and his grandmotherand#039;s delight.

He got given wave-of-the-day, a four-foot over-the-falls wipe-out. A big shout out to Brendon McMillan who paddled him onto the waves, and expertly took the wipe-outs with Luke.

Second up was Sarah Wright from Grade 4. She was diagnosed with SLE (a form of Lupus) which adversely affects her heart and liver. She managed to ride half a dozen waves that brought a smile to her face that epitomised the stoke of wave-riding.

She was followed by Sebastian Orbe (Sebs) from Grade 9 who was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder that affects language and behavioral development in children. He paddled out without much assistance to catch a few early morning gems. Sebs also had a great time in the water, with mom and dad watching from the shore.

Even before Mohammed Essack, a blind Grade 4 pupil, got onto his board, the joy he showed when he felt a wave break against his legs and body left the (usually) hard-core Toti crew with a lump in their throats.

After his second wave, Mohammed turned to the crew and said: and#034;One more, push me into a cooker.and#034; This had the crew laughing and they waited for and#034;that cookerand#034;, which he managed to ride from the backline all the way to his father on the shore. That wave was greeted by collective applause from the surfers, supporters and volunteers. Luke, Sarah, Sebs and Mohammed contacted the crew and passed on their gratitude for an amazing Sunday morning surf session.

- Mahlanyoza

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