Ashtan Davids, 18, has started a surfing programme for special needs kids & young adults in his community in Cape Town, that is changing the lives of the special needs children everywhere.
The aim of the Smile and Wave initiative is to empower children who have no control over their lives or circumstances.
Davids has proved to everyone that just because you are in a wheelchair, it does not mean you cant be in high spirits & have dreams!
Two years ago he decided to start surfing with his older brother. He is now preparing to compete at the disabled world championships in California later this year, and surfs 3 times a week. After realising how amazing he felt in the water, he decided to share this, so he started the Smile & Wave initiative with his sister Megan Cross.
“The whole vision of it is to empower adaptive surfing because it’s just as much a challenge for an able-bodied person as it is for someone who’s physically disabled and just being able to make it possible it what smile and wave is about,” says Cross.
The Smile and Wave group meet once a month at the beach, they have professional coaches teaching the kids with a range of disabilities.
Surfing coach Chrisjan Bredenkamp says:
“There’s different levels of where surfing can go for children with special needs, some of them need assistance catching waves, some of them just stay lying down, some of them stand up and become very competent surfers. It definitely is a challenge, but overall the enthusiasm they have is just brilliant.”
Autism Western Cape says the effect the initiative has had on autistic children has been incredible.
The organisation’s education and outreach manager, Keri Delport, says: “Oh my goodness, they loved it. Just on a sensory level we find that water calms them so much, so just getting them used to the water and then having the waves crashing on their backs is such a calming experience for them.”