When we were asked as part of our volunteer service in Costa Rica to help with a surfing lesson for blind and deaf individuals, we really looked forward to this new challenge. But, we were also at the same time anxious about how that would work. We stood on a surfboard for the first time a few weeks before ourselves and knew how hard surfing is with all human senses on hand. And so we were all the more fascinated with how well it ended up working with some of the participants.
Every surf-school for those with impairments includes a team of 4–5 surf-teachers alongside volunteers on the side, to guarantee good care and security in the water. The very first academic introduction to the sequences and movements of surfing and getting to know the feeling on a surfboard directly followed already being covered in breast-high water. For good communication, the deaf participants instructed us in advance on a few useful expressions in sign language, like “Everything’s good!”, “I am exhauted” and “Shark in sight” :-).
We were particularly impressed with Henry, who is blind since birth and after a few attempts managed to ride his first wave. In following, he told us in an impassioned manner what an unbelievable feeling this was for him. And it didn’t end up as his last go at surfing – at an annual surfing tournament in our town of Esterillos Oeste a few weeks later, he finished in first place in the category for surfers with impairments, fascinating!
Check out the great impressions in the following video, captured by Costa-Rican television: