Preparing a child to meet the challenges of life is a complicated journey. The journey is extraordinarily complex and frequently laden with obstacles for children with special needs.
Surf camps by non-profit Indo Jax Charities serve children facing a variety of life challenges, including visual impairment, autism, cancer, loss of parents, and juvenile diabetes. New on the summer schedule for 2019 is a session for Special Olympians.
“We always start wherever the child is in their life. Every child has a different goal,” said Jack Viorel, founder of Indo Jax Surf Charities. “Some children are working on mobility; others might be working on communication. Some are working on fear. We work on whatever the child needs. We don’t have a set agenda. When you do that you can always be successful.”
Twelve years and more than 5,000 students later, Viorel’s unique curriculum has gained international media attention and accolades from both parents and children.
“The most powerful thing we do is to help children get out of their comfort zone and succeed,” said Viorel. “When I was a school teacher, I always knew surfing could be used to build confidence and self-esteem in children with special needs.”
World champion surfer, artist, and surfboard shaper Guy Takayama will join the Indo Jax team for the Visually Impaired and Special Olympics camps in mid-July.
“He has worked with blind children and Special Olympians through his charity in California,” said Viorel. “Guy also handcrafted a surfboard to help support our North Carolina camps and had it signed by famous surfers such as David Nuuhiwa and Jericho Poppler.” The Takayama board will be auctioned at a charity event later this summer.
No child is turned away from the special needs surf camps due to inability to pay. “Thanks to individuals and organizations like Live Oak Bank, United Healthcare, the Jordan Spieth Foundation, and Blockade Runner Beach Resort, we can keep up with most of the demand,” said Viorel. “The last two years, our Autism camps filled and were closed to new registrations. We’re still working to hold more programs to accommodate the needs of these children.”
2019 Surf Camps (Partial Schedule)
July 16, 17, 18
Visually Impaired Camp in Memory of Anita Lathan (Wrightsville Beach, NC)
July 16, 17, 18
Access of Wilmington (Wrightsville Beach, NC)
Special Olympics – New Hanover County (Wrightsville Beach, NC)
July 23, 24, 25
Special Needs Camp (Cayucos, CA)
July 30, 31, Aug. 1
Juvenile Diabetes Camp (Cayucos, CA)
August 6, 7, 8
Childhood Cancer Camp in Memory of Donnalee Wilcox (Wrightsville Beach, NC)