PHOENIX — Hundreds of children with autism got the chance to surf like a pro Friday during the 2nd annual Surfing With Nixon.
Surfing With Nixon, a nonprofit organization that offers surfing lessons to Arizona kids with autism as a form of water therapy, celebrated its second event at Big Surf Waterpark in Scottsdale, Arizona on Friday.
Over 130 kids took part in the event, which brought in professional surfers from Hawaii and California to teach the kids how to “hang ten.”
Daniel Romney, director of Surfing With Nixon, said the kids love the ability to trigger their different senses on the water.
“It’s all about the kids with autism,” he said. “The fact that they can get out there and surf and have that sensory input met; there’s nothing else better than to see these kids ride in on a surf board with a huge smile on their face.”
Nixon, the young boy who the event was named after, was born with Cerebral Palsy and Autism, according to the website. His mother, Shari Romney, said he was on a waiting list for physical therapy, horse therapy and swimming therapy two years ago when she bought him a season pass to Big Surf.
“He loved it, to where he didn’t even want to get out when we were done,” she said on the website. “After this experience I looked into surfing events in California, again being told there is a three year waiting list.”
Soon after, after dealing with never-ending frustration from waiting list after waiting list, Romney decided to start Surfing With Nixon, an annual event that brings in surfers from all over the world to volunteer their time to help kids in need.
Romney said the annual event allows children with autism the ability to learn how to control their bodies in and out of the water while also bringing families in similar situations closer together.
“Most of the time children with autism, they’re always doing extensive amount of therapy,” she said. “The sensory input that receive from the water, that‘s why most of them love it.”
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