Sun and summer with the Disabled Surfers Association of Australia
The Geelong Regional Network met at the newly renovated Ocean Grove Surf Lifesaving Club to learn about an inclusive surfing event that is held every summer at Ocean Grove. It was also a chance to welcome two new members to the group.
Phil, President of the Disabled Surfers Association of Australia (DSAA), explained that the goal of DSAA is to provide an inclusive experience for people of all abilities to surf the waves in Ocean Grove. On their event days, they take people of all ages and abilities to go on the waters. They work with the individual and their support people to find a way that enables them to comfortably surf.
For example, slings and beach wheelchairs are available to help transfer surfers from beach to the paddle board. For surfers with limited upper body control, they can transfer onto bean bags that sits on top of the big and stable paddle boards.
Surfers also have the option of putting on a special wetsuit to keep out the cold. Recently, DSAA obtained new “octo-suits” through a grant. Surfers put it on like a poncho, and the wetsuit is closed by using the zips on the side of the body and inner legs.
Once on the waters, volunteers line up on both sides of the surfer to support them to stay on the board and guide them to shore. The water is at waist height level.
When they first started the event four years ago, Phil says DSAA had 40 surfers and 100 volunteers. Now, they have 120 surfers and 250 volunteers. After much feedback from surfers, DSAA now have better processes in getting people through the waters, and rotating people from shore to surf.
The event will be running on only two Sundays in February and March 2020. They welcome potential surfers and volunteers to go watch and enjoy the food provided. Check out the website to register as a surfer, volunteer, or find other surfing locations: http://disabledsurfers.org/vic/ocean-grove-branch/
DSAA also welcome community members to borrow their beach wheelchairs on non-event days during summer. They will provide assistance with transfers and a safety briefing.
Some members of the Network were interested in the event, and hope to either have a go or have a look next year.
Afterwards, the Network enjoyed lunch while sharing their experiences and getting to know each other better. The Ocean Grove Surf Life Saving Club (http://oceangroveslsc.asn.au/) had a lovely view of the blue ocean. Post-lunch, the Network took the opportunity to explore the ramp that led to the beach.
It was a beautiful sunny day to be out, and the Network looks forward to return to Ocean Grove in the near future.
Details of our next event
Wednesday, 27 Nov 2019
Lunch: 77 Church St, Geelong 3220
Table tennis: 84 Church Street, North Geelong 3220 or short stroll away
Available at lunch venue and table tennis venue
End of year planning and “Come and Try: table tennis” at Geelong Table Tennis Association ($15pp)
Spire at 9489 0777 (toll free 1800 999 128) or [email protected]