Port Macquarie surfs the spectrum

Spectrum stars enjoy the waves at Lighthouse Beach. Credit: Marina Weitz.

23 SEP 2019

Nikita Ashford

Port Macquarie hosted it’s second Surfing the Spectrum event over the weekend, providing surf therapy and respite to families and children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The free surfing program held at Lighthouse Beach on Saturday 21, was run in collaboration with the Port Macquarie Surf School, with over 45 families attending on the day.

The event which was held at Flynns Beach in 2018 was relocated this year due to the predicted strong winds and increased swell size. But the wild weather didn’t stop Port Macquarie’s spectrum superstars from making waves.

Surfing the Spectrum co-founder Aimee Blacker said the relocation provided additional protection, greater opportunities and more enjoyment for the families and children involved.

“Flynns Beach is a fantastic location, but we relocated this year to ensure we delivered the best and safest surf options for all our participants on the day,” Ms Blacker said.

Port Macquarie was the first town to kick off Surfing the Spectrum’s Summer Tour for 2019/2020, with participant registration reaching maximum capacity within days of opening online.

According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health’s qualitative study of surf therapy intervention, by offering a safe physical and emotional space, peer mentoring and positive reinforcement, surfing can be used as a vehicle to embrace change.

“Surfing can positively impact our everyday life in numerous ways by building perceptions and developing proprioceptive awareness,” Ms Blacker said.

The sensory experience of surfing can directly impact daily tasks such as getting dressed, exerting the right amount of pressure when writing or using cutlery, or sitting upright in a chair at school or when eating.

Surf volunteers on the day, delivered two on one support per child for 30 minute sessions, encouraging each child with ASD to form social relationships and learn new skills in a challenging environment.

Catching waves for well-being. Credit: Marina Weitz.

Event organisers were thrilled with the positive feedback they received and are hoping to increase the number of Surfing the Spectrum events held in Port Macquarie each year.

The next event will be held in Surfing the Spectrum’s home town of Newcastle at Nobby’s Beach on Saturday October 12.

Tags: #portmacquariesurfschool #surfingthespectrum #autismspectrumdisorder #asd #autism #surftherapy #saltwatertherapy #oceantherapy #community #portmacquarie #volunteer #surfing #beaches #lighthousebeach

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