JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- Dozens of local children who are blind and or deaf, are making major waves on Jacksonville Beach. The Florida Surfing Association is giving disabled children the chance to do something that many of us take for granted- swim and surf in the water.
More than 50 children who are either deaf and or blind are taking to the water. These kids are from Florida's School for the Deaf and Blind out of Saint Augustine. The event is called the Silent Surfer program.
Organizer and President of the Florida Surfing Association, Paul West says many deaf and blind students think surfing is a closed door, but teams of volunteers are working together to make it possible.
"Many of the kids have never been to the beach before, much less been in the ocean," said West. "And, of course have even surfed. So, I think today really develops their self-esteem."
Each student is paired up with a surf instructor and an interpreter.Interpreters like camp director Sue, who interprets for Sophia. It was Sophia's first time on the water.
"I felt a little awkward when I first came out but then I felt happy that I tried and I am really happy...I am just really happy that I tried," said Sophia.
Marcus also took to the water. He loves hanging out with friends, his mom and basketball. Now, he adds surfing to the list.
"We learn how to swim and how to surf and how to meet new people," said Marcus.
It's a way for these children to experience the beach in a different way.
"We realize that we can do things that other people do and we are doing it," said Sophia.
It just means they see and feel the world, a little different.
And of course, with surfing - the waves can't tell who can hear and who can't.