July 8, 2010, Scheveningen, Netherlands – For the third year running O’Neill brought the joy of surfing to a group of visually impaired children on the beach in Holland. A group of 19 kids aged between 8 and 13 years old with varying degrees of blindness were selected to spend a sunny summer’s day on Scheveningen beach.
Some of them by the sea for the first time ever – learning to surf under the tuition of Santa Cruz local instructor Joey Hudson as well as a host of volunteers from O’Neill. For most there was a sense of excitement, but even those with a fear of getting in the water were soon overcome with the thrill of the experience.
“I wasn’t actually scared of the water,” said 8 year old Max den Enting. “I just found it really challenging learning to surf.” For Max, who is completely blind, the experience however challenging, was definitely one he won’t forget in a while. “It was such an exciting experience to be picked up by a wave and feel like you are almost being taken away with it.”
The O’Neill Out of Bounds programme was established two years ago on Scheveningen beach as an extension to the already existing O’Neill Surf Academy.
So popular and successful has been the programme that last year’s participants Leroy Le Rock and his twin brother Justin returned to Scheveningen beach with their own surfboards to show the instructors how much they had progressed.
“We wanted to come back to say hi to the guys from California who taught us last year – Travis, Joey and Pete,” said Leroy. “This experience changed our lives,” said Justin. “Surfing is a big part of our lives now. We are always asking our parents to take us to the beach. We have our boards in the car ready to go. I have a medium board and Leroy has a long board
And it’s not just the kids who benefit from this day in the water. From the instructors to all the volunteers who are paired up with a child in the water, this is time and time again one of the most rewarding days of the year.
“We come to Europe for the Surf Academy every year and love it,” said head instructor and Santa Cruz local surfer, Joey Hudson. “But this Out of Bounds day is by far the most rewarding experience you can have as an instructor. To see these kids slightly scared at the start of the day, then standing up on a board and so excited to be surfing a wave is amazing.”
The O’Neill Surf Academy was started 13 years ago by Jay Moriarity, Richard Schmidt and Robert “Wingnut” together with O’Neill. Offering free day-long surf tuition to kids between the ages of 6-16 years old, it provides hundreds of children their first experience of surfing.
Following the Out of Bounds Day, the O’Neill Surf Academy 2010 will continue through Holland before heading to France and then the UK.