On Wednesday and Thursday last, Tramore Beach hosted its first ever ‘Surf2Heal’ camp, an event which proved a resounding success according to its Waterford director Jessica Statham.
Surf2Heal specifically caters for children with autism and the organisation was established in Garretstown, County Cork a year ago.
Jessica, a social care worker (and self-confessed less than exemplary surfer!) who was then living in the area, was immediately bitten by the bug.
“We’re thrilled with how things went last week in Tramore,” said Jessica. “It was extremely well received and over the two days we had 12 volunteers assisting 10 children with autism from Tramore, Waterford, Kilkenny and Wexford.”
She added: “I had a few parents of the children involved coming up to me afterwards, telling me that they had never seen their children so happy, which was a wonderful thing to have anyone said and really made the effort to get Surf2Heal going in Tramore completely worthwhile.”
The event was also supported by Irish surfing legend Kevin Cavey, who was on hand on both days to offer tips to the young surfers, who revelled in the occasion.
“I was thrilled that Kevin came on board to support us and he’s keen to remain involved, which is wonderful in terms of helping to build Surf2Heal’s profile throughout Tramore and Waterford.”
Regarding volunteer support, Jessica was bowled over by the local reaction. “We’re completely reliant on volunteers and we certainly weren’t short on numbers last week – O actually had to turn some people away!”
Further Surf2Heal events will be run in Tramore on July 15th and 16th as well as from August 25th to 27th.
“Last week, we could accommodate five children per class – we only have three 12 foot tandem boards right now. So if we could generate more funds, we ought to be able to increase that number,” Jessica continued. “But it’s not cheap.”
She stated: “Things like lifejackets and other equipment all cost money and we’ve pretty much conjured them out of thin air to get things going, but I know that going forward, we will need financial assistance from individuals and business in Tramore, Waterford and beyond. Any help that anyone can give would be really, really, appreciated.”
With schools now up and running in Counties Waterford, Cork, Clare and Kerry, it’s clear that the Surf2Heal message is spreading.
And if you want further information or wish to contribute to Surf2Heal, then please email Surf2healtramore@gmail.com or log onto www.surf2healtramore.com, a site that is still under development.