Out of Bounds with the O’Neill Surf Academy

August 07, 2008 @ 10:38 AM – News: Events

Breaking boundaries through the stoke of surfing.

For two days on the Dutch coast, 24 blind and visually impaired children took to the ocean and were taught how to surf as part of The Out of Bounds program within The O’Neill Surf Academy.

For 10-year-old Dion Terlingen, who is completely blind and autistic, it was not only his first time on a surfboard, it was also his first time in the sea. “We were encouraging him to stand up on his board,” said O’Neill volunteer Femke Terpstra. “As soon as he stood up, he said ‘I’ve done it, now I want to play in the water’. He was playing around in the waves non-stop for the rest of the day!”

Eva Van Den Berg, 17, who is completely blind, arrived at Out of Bounds, shy, her head down, saying she was not good at sports. After two hours in the water, elated from standing on her board, Eva declined a rest: “I can rest for the rest of the holidays,” she said.

Out of Bounds came from the inspiration of Santa Cruz native, Yael Dahan, a photographer and a surfer who worked with O’Neill to create the first program of its kind in Europe. “There were moments in the water where I looked around and I could not find a single face with out a smile on it,” Yael said. “There is just something about the ocean that affects us all in such a positive and profound way.  Through this project my respect grew stronger not only for the kids but for the power of the ocean as well.”

Each attendee was paired with an instructor as well as two volunteers from O’Neill – a ‘buddy’ and a ‘catcher’ to be there at the end of their wave. They were guided through the day by local Santa Cruz surfer, Joey Hudson. “This is my seventh year on The Surf Academy,” said Joey, “but my first time tea