This is a guest post by Gretta Serov who is the founder of On Our Own Tracks.
As a person with a disability do you find yourself constantly exploring ways to experience all of these things just like your peers? Whether your passions are art, socialising, swimming, skiing or surfing, don’t you want to do these things completely independently? At the same time, learning brand new skills, too?
If you are reading these words and your response is to start dreaming of the beach, waves, sand and the freedom of surfing, then have I got good news for you. Ability Surf is an innovative surf coaching initiative for people with disabilities, which is centered on the Far North Coast NSW near Byron Bay at the ‘magic miles’ surfing coastline of Lennox Head and Ballina. This exciting new initiative of surf lessons and coaching for people with a disability is being developed by Emma Bracken, along with support from the local community, her friends and family.
I first met Emma about twelve years ago (when I was going to a respite place run by Northcott Disability Services in Parramatta) and we have been great friends ever since. Emma has been an Occupational Therapist for six years now and has been a brilliant carer for ten years. She has been all over the world working in various roles with people who have disabilities, including adaptive skiing and adaptive surfing. She now works as a full time Occupational Therapist for children and adults who have Autism Spectrum Disorder.
On a personal level, I feel the main reason why we have hit it off so well is because I have always admired Emma’s passion for life along with her awesome and positive attitude towards disability.
It has been while watching her develop her dream of “Ability Surf”. Over the past year I have been amazed and honoured to have witnessed Emma put everything she has into this vision. As Emma explains, this idea basically evolved from experiencing the buzz she received after attending surf days run for people with disabilities around the northern rivers region. As well as this, what further contributed to this buzz was the excitement of one of her clients, Leilani, who after just one volunteer surfing session, continued to say “Let’s go surfing.” Leilani would also regularly demonstrate her paddling and surfing stance to Emma which was “one of the best ‘pop ups’ and best moments” Emma had witnessed.
I personally feel that, because this concept was formed around such a magical feeling, it’s what makes Ability Surf such an inspiring venture.