Surfin' Up Smiles

Surf and Turf Therapy is a non-profit organization committed to bettering lives through non-traditional therapeutic activities, including surfing and horseback riding. We work with children and adults with various disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, Angelman’s syndrome, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, dementia, hypotonia, speech delays, and rare diseases, to name a few. Additionally, we welcome siblings in treatment sessions, with our programs built valuing inclusion and community integration. #SmallBusinessRelief

Over the past year we were fortunate to remain open and providing in-person treatments throughout the entirety of the pandemic. During this time, we saw the need for our services double as people with disabilities have been disproportionately impacted by serious disruptions in necessary services during the pandemic.
To date, we have provided 640 surf therapy hours operating out of a Subaru Outback with a roof rack. During that time, we have seen so many people GET STOKED and make HUGE PROGRESS! The feeling of being on a wave is hard to describe – it’s a combination of pure joy, excitement, fear, accomplishment, relaxation and thrill- all at once. The waves may happen over short bursts of time, but the feeling stays with a person, as does the progress they make. We see individuals who were initially afraid of the water and did not enjoy splashes or sudden movements, race to the waves after only a few sessions. Patients who were unable to stand upright due to tightness in their hips, stand tall after an hour of surfing with a focus on tone relaxation. A person with quadriplegia who had not surfed since a catastrophic injury returned to the water after 4 years and was amazed to feel her abs working to help her stay balanced while cruising on the wave.

Currently, we serve 54 individuals each week – 38 on the turf (horseback riding) and 16 in the surf, but our current wait list for the surf side of our program is at 17 and growing! In order to meet the needs of our community – which is double our current capacity – we need your help! Currently, the number of people we can help is limited by the size of our vehicle and the equipment we can get to the beach. We are looking to purchase a van that can transport everything needed to provide surf therapy sessions to everyone  –  including large surfboards and SUP’s, a beach wheel chair, wetsuits, life-vests, and booties. Additionally, we are looking to modify the vehicle in order to provide a mobile base of operations for the surf side of our program, housing everything from water for volunteers to intake forms for those interested in signing up! Accessibility at most beaches is limited, and many of our participants are unable to get to a public shower to rinse off. Our desire is to modify the vehicle to house an outdoor shower on the side, allowing individuals to rinse off post therapy.
Our goal is to meet the needs of the community and help every person wanting to participate in surf therapy! Any funds raised beyond what is necessary for the community outreach van will go toward insurance and maintenance, surf equipment, hiring support staff, and scholarships for participants with financial need.
Thank you for your support and helping us to keep Surfin’ up Smiles!


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Jillian Stewart 
San Juan Capistrano, CA
Surf and Turf Therapy 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.
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