Surfing. A simple act of riding waves that can feel like an immense challenge for some, especially for people with disabilities. But, did you know that the joy of catching a wave is not reserved for the non-disabled? The Disabled Surfers Association (DSA) on the Gold Coast is here to ensure that surfing is accessible to everyone, regardless of their ability.
The DSA was established in 1986 by Gary Blaschke after a motorcycle accident led to extensive rehabilitation. This experience made him recognise the lack of support for surfers with disabilities. His vision was simple: to create an inclusive community where people with any form of disability could enjoy surfing just as he had done before his accident. And having seen the joy and thrill this organization brings to my clients firsthand, I can affirm that they are making this vision a reality.
How to Participate?
If you're someone with a disability who's thought of catching a wave, the Disabled Surfers Association Gold Coast is there to make that a reality. Regardless of age or level of ability, the DSA welcomes all.
The DSA conducts regular "Let's Go Surfing" events between October and March at Flat Rock beach, Currumbin. These events are open to participants of all ages and abilities. They've got specially designed surfboards to cater to a range of needs, so everyone can participate. And, importantly, safety is their top priority. Each participant is supported by many volunteers, ensuring all necessary safety measures are taken.
Event day starts around 8.30am for check-ins, with surfing commencing at about 9.30am. The day wraps up by 12.30-1pm, rounded off with a friendly sausage sizzle.
How much does it cost? It only costs $20 which covers participants for the entire season whether you come to one event or all six events.
How long will I surf for? Participants get a "surf experience" and on average, they go out for 15 minutes and get you riding on average 4 waves, depending on the conditions and numbers on the day.
Can I surf on my own? No. DSA has a world’s best practice for surfing for the disabled community, and their ratios of volunteers to surfers ensure the utmost safety. You will ride laying down on the board with a volunteer behind you.
In case of bad weather, know that the DSA only cancels events if conditions are dangerous, such as severe winds, thunderstorms, or unusually large surf. Any cancellation notices will be posted on their social media pages.
If you're unsure whether you'd be able to participate, don't hesitate to reach out to the DSA team via email. They're available to address any concerns and ensure you can enjoy the surfing experience confidently and safely.
So, if you've been contemplating giving surfing a shot, the DSA Gold Coast offers a supportive, encouraging, and accessible opportunity. They can't wait to see you at the beach!
For Potential Volunteers
If you're interested in volunteering, the DSA welcomes you with open arms. My own experience volunteering with the DSA was immensely rewarding. As a volunteer, I was responsible for tasks like helping participants get on and off the surfboards, offering support and encouragement, and sometimes even riding tandem on a wave. It was inspiring to see firsthand how riding a wave could bring such joy and a sense of accomplishment to individuals. The stoke was palpable. Volunteering doesn't require you to be an expert surfer, but it does call for a willingness to make a positive impact on someone else's life.
Just like the participants, volunteers are also required to register through EventBrite. All information is regularly posted on the DSA Gold Coast's Facebook and Instagram pages. You don't have to be an expert surfer to volunteer; all you need is a willingness to help others enjoy a day at the beach.
What Others Say
Here are some real experiences shared by different individuals who have engaged with the Disabled Surfers Association (DSA) Gold Coast. Taken from the Facebook page.
“First timers today and absolutely loved it! Thank you very much; the organisation of the whole event was perfect; love the number of volunteers. Our little girl was smiling all the way there from Brisbane and still smiling in her sleep!”
“absolutely awesome!!! All of the volunteers are amazing!! Always a great day out. I would highly recommend that everyone comes along.”
“Very well run & lots of friendly, helpful volunteers! very special experience.”
For most, surfing is a way to connect with nature and enjoy a sense of freedom and thrill. It's important to remember that this enjoyment shouldn't be exclusive to any group. Thanks to the DSA, surfing is accessible to everyone, including people of all abilities.
Whether you're a potential participant or a would-be volunteer, the DSA is here to provide a safe, fun, and friendly environment to enjoy surfing. We hope this guide has answered your questions on how to get involved in surfing as a person with disability on the Gold Coast. So come along, join the community, and let's catch some waves together!