SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Almost half a million children currently live in foster care in the United States. Some of them are accommodated with host families, others in group homes.
Many of these children suffered from neglect, physical, emotional and sexual abuse from their own mothers and fathers. The trauma they have experienced can affect them all their lives. But now a group is using the ocean to help them heal, and the impact goes far beyond what’s happening in the water.
“I spent 2,805 days in foster care,” says 13-year-old Mackenzie Donalson.
Mackenzie and his twin sister Peyton are among a group of past and present foster children who use over therapy to help them heal.
“I was 15 and actively looking for something to call my family,” said Nephthali Ramos, now 19. She had been in and out of five foster homes and found what she was looking for here at Urban Surf for Kids. “It was an event that changed my life,” says Ramos.
“We have this, this feeling of ‘ohana,’ which is the Hawaiian term for the chosen family. We try to give them this opportunity to feel surrounded by friends and family, ”says Roxanne Avant, Executive Director of Surf 4 Kids.
Avant brings together caring adults to help guide these children in and out of the water.
“Being in nature has a very therapeutic element.” Avant explains the program.
Craig Jenkins, the president of the organization, says that “when we take them out there, you know, they listen to their instructor, they paddle, they see the wave coming. 30 seconds. Your mind was clear and it is the healing property.
Mary Guerin brought her granddaughter here six years ago, “when she started, at five, she was afraid of water. You know, the multiple traumas she suffered, and surfing was her life.
Foster mom and organization board member Libby Donalson says, “The best thing about it is it’s a fun and positive outlet for them. They can relate to other children.
Today, nearly a thousand children discover what it’s like to ride the waves every year.
“It’s scary but fun at the same time,” says 9-year-old Grace Deveraux.
18-year-old Malachi Donalson says, “When I’m there, I forget everything.
“When I got up from a sitting position to a standing position, it was a bit difficult, but I untangled my legs and I went,” said Mackenzie Donalson.
Urban Surfing for Kids includes surf camps, mentoring programs, a mobile after school program that focuses on rod education, and the success program that teaches teens life skills, teens who completing the six-month program receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii to meet some of the world’s best surf athletes. For many of them, this is their first experience outside of San Diego.
Contributors to this report include: Marsha Lewis, producer; Roque Correa Videographer and Editor. To receive a free weekly email on Ivanhoe’s Smart Living, subscribe to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/ftk
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