Surfing benefits disabled users

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

HE is synonymous with the famous AIB surfing advert, but surfing teacher John McCarthy is now showing Limerick people with disabilities how to ride the waves.

HE is synonymous with the famous AIB surfing advert, but surfing teacher John McCarthy is now showing Limerick people with disabilities how to ride the waves.

Mr McCarthy, a former Irish champion and pro-surfer, has teamed up with Enable Ireland, which provides services to people with disabilities, to introduce people to the sport and show them that having a disability does not mean they can’t enjoy this sport and others.

A photograph showing a young person with a disability learning to surf in the popular surfing town of Lahinch is now part of Enable Ireland’s ‘No Limits’ campaign, which aims to prove that having a disability doesn’t have to limit your life experiences.

Tom Hanrahan, a trained outdoors sportsman with Enable Ireland in Mungret, said surfing has proven to have great emotional, spiritual and physical benefits for those who have taken part in the classes over the past two years.

Mr Hanrahan pointed to the case of one young child who never spoke a word in their life, but once they got on a surfboard they began to open up.

“I believe surfing is more than just a sport or competition, it’s a spiritual thing. People who have never tried it before can’t get enough of it. It opens up a whole new world to people,” he said.

Surfboards are adapted depending on users’ needs, and he said it has been a “learning curve for the instructors as well.”

Another spokesperson for Enable Ireland said while people perceive disability as a life limiting condition, “every day, the 3,800 children and adults with disabilities who use our services set goals for their lives. These goals, when achieved, prove in little ways that they can live life with ‘No Limits’.

“It may be the ability to go to the local shop, communicate using new technology, attend mainstream primary school, or even run a marathon,” said the spokesperson.

This September, Enable Ireland will embark on their second annual ‘No Limits Kite Appeal.’

Running from September 19-24, the campaign will provide a platform for children and adults with disabilities to talk about how they live their lives with ‘no limits’, while raising much needed funds to support the charity’s work.

Dorothy Barry, retail and fundraising director, said: “More than ever we need the help of the public to raise funds to support our services for children and adults with disabilities.”

During the campaign the public are asked to ‘Buy a Little Kite - Make a Big Difference’ and support its services by buying a kite pin (€2) or a kite trolley disc (€2). Enable Ireland is currently seeking volunteers to help support the campaign on the ground.