18 October, 2013 18 October, 2013

Spreading the Stoke – Autism Project Free Surf Day

Sometimes, as surfers, we take for granted our ability to get away from the madness of life on land. The ease at which we can slip away for a few hours is overlooked, while we fill our stoke-meters. Not always, but sometimes.


We should never take it for granted, nor should we keep it to ourselves. The joys should be shared, and that’s exactly what various organisations around the country have been doing.

We’ve seen projects like Isiqalo, Umthombo and such sharing the joys of surfing with underprivileged youth from townships or the street. Last year we saw Surfing South Africa co-host the Extreme Abilites Adapted Surfing Day with stoked out organiser Dries Millard.

And this Sunday, 20 October, the Autism Surf Project are hosting a Free Surf Day for autistic children and adults at Big Bay in Cape Town. They’ve extended an open invitation to parents with autistic sons or daughters to bring them along for a day of stoke. Volunteers are equally welcomed.


The Autism Surf Project is an organisation based in Cape Town dedicated to teaching kids and adults with autism about using the ocean and surfing. The project teaches them the spiritual, emotional and physical power of the ocean, while also offering the opportunity to have some good, clean fun and make friends along the way.

The event will kick off at 10:00am and those still looking to get involved are requested to please contact Catishka from the Autism Surf Project, so she may in turn let the lifeguards know how many can be expected.

078 623 7938


“Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.

It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support.

People with autism may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours.” – (The National Autistic Society, UK)

Volunteers can get involved in many ways – whether as surf coach, or simply lending a board or a wetsuit. For those that don’t surf, there’s also help needed on land. If you’re interested in getting involved you don’t need to register, just bring down a beach bag and your family, and look for Katishka and her crew to assign you a role.

The list is filling up with people registering for the day. Ages already range from three year-old grommets to frothing 29 year-old’s. On the beach there will also be a number of those beach games that we all love; bat and ball, cricket, soccer and some art activities once everyone’s surfed-out for the day.


If parents are worried about their young ones having an anxiety attack, then it’s worth noting that “safe tents” will be set up for kids to relax and read a book about the ocean.

“It’s no secret that the parents of autistic children deserve a medal, it can be challenging at times. Relaxing on the beach can be a great way to have some down time, as well as learn from other parents and share advice about discipline, reward systems, therapies etc.” says Katishka.

The Autism Surf Project is also looking for sponsors to help with financial aid to assist homes that have been effected by autism. They also hope that through sponsorship they’ll be able to make this a weekly event.

So far the following sponsors have put their support behind the event:
Sunset Surf Shop, Joluka Wind Surfing (all the way from Joburg), Big Bay Lifesaving Club, and many individuals.

Go like Autism Surf Project on Facebook and keep updated with future events.


1 Comment

  1. Tish
    19 October, 2013 at 9:24 pm · Reply

    Thanks Barry!
    Also huge thanks to Dries Millard who not only will be helping us out but also has given great advice and tips to make the day beneficial to all… x

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