Ride The Wave

Partners With A Purpose

One of the key components to the camp’s success is the continued commitment and collaborative efforts of those behind the scenes.

The camp provides a one-to-one supervision ratio, as each child has his or her unique challenges to which the instructor must adapt. In addition, the city’s Ocean Rescue Department allocates an area on the beach to accommodate the group.

“Watching these kids ride waves for the first time is an amazing feeling. It is so rewarding to see the smiles on their faces,” says Magrisso.

“At first, some seem fearful of trying something new, but our incredible city staff, the staff from CARD, and volunteers work hard to help the participants feel comfortable.”

The surf camp, which is made possible in part by the support of many local sponsors like Quiksilver, the Surf Rider Foundation, and the Autism Society of Miami-Dade County, is free to all participants.

From the first day at the meet-and-greet with staff members to the last day at the award ceremony, the opportunity for the children to socialize, interact, and be active is not only a fun experience, but also essential therapy.

“If there is any type of behavioral problem, the minute they are in the water and on a wave, it completely soothes them. It changes their demeanor,” says Cindy Casanova, Parks & Recreation ADA Therapeutic Coordinator.

Due to the program’s success, the city and UM-NSU CARD have decided to try to expand by offering surf clinics every other month for teens with varying levels of autism. UM-NSU CARD recently recognized the city with the “Outstanding Community Service” award for helping to provide these services.

All smiles after a successful day at the beach! Photo Courtesy of Jannet Harriss, City of Miami Beach Staff

To learn more about the program, call (305) 673-7730, or visit www.miamibeachparks.com. For information on UM–NSU CARD, call (800) AUTISM (ext. 1), or visit www.umcard.org.

Jackie Gonzalez is the public-information specialist for the city of Miami Beach Parks and Recreation Department. Reach her at jackiegonzalez@miamibeachfl.gov.


Start A Surf Camp

Looking to start a similar program? Here are five tips for a successful startup:

• Find the right partners and organizations. Contact a local center for autism for assistance

• Work with qualified and caring staff members

• Seek out sponsors

• Get support from the children and their parents. Make sure everyone is willing to participate

• Target medium- to high-functioning children.



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