Feature Writer John Christie – Blind Students Gain Confidence at Surf Camp

From Monday July 18, 2011 to Wednesday July 20, 2011, the eleventh annual Surf Camp was held at Mission Point and South Mission Beach Jetty in San Diego, California. Ocean Experience Surf School and Braille Institute have paired up for the past eleven years to make this camp possible.
The purpose of the program is to let the visually impaired student know the thrill of surfing. The students learned the step by step procedure of how to surf by using adaptive equipment and exploring the fundamentals of surfing including balance, training on the Indo Board, paddling progression, the “pop up,” catching waves, water safety, and oceanography.
“The lessons essentially bring together the adaptive skills we teach in our program,” said Katie Wischmeyer, youth services manager at Braille Institute San Diego. “Knowing this, the instructors at Ocean Experience are great at ensuring all steps are done to make the surf camp accessible to our young surfers.”
Through the Ocean Experience’s surf training program, students walk away with a new found sense of confidence. “Our young students love any activity that is both educational and fun,” said Wischmeyer. “Couple that with this surf camp, and the resulting experience encompasses what we at Braille Institute wish for all our students: Independence.”
Braille Institute also has other activities which help students adapt to a sighted world. These annual events include white-water rafting, camping, and jet skiing. Braille Institute also has a car rally in August where a blind person with directions teams up with a driver to navigate them to the finish line.
The Surf Camp that Braille Institute and Ocean Experience Surf School have started is an excellent program for the visually impaired and blind students. The program gives the students confidence and lets them have fun as well. It also reinforces with the sighted community that with the right training and the proper adaptations, the blind can overcome barriers and do many things that the sighted world thought they couldn’t do.
This partnership between the two organizations is doing a great job changing the perception of the public in regards to what the blind can and cannot do. Hopefully, other blindness agencies will follow in their footsteps.
The Braille Institute’s Surf Camp runs from 9 am to 1 pm for three days in the middle of July. For more information on the Braille Institute surf camp, please email Lanette Jorgensen, at LanetteJ@OBSurfSkate.com or call (619) 225-2317.
Source: http://surf.transworld.net/1000134456/news/ocean-experience-to-teach-visually-impaired/

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