Surfers of all abilities will soon be hitting Warrnambool’s waves with a meeting next week to create a Disabled Surfers Association of Australia (DSA) branch in the south-west.
Preliminary site visits and meetings have already gauged plenty of local interest in the group, which would offer two or three all-inclusive surf sessions a year.
Meeting co-ordinator Jim Bradley said the organisation catered for all ages and all disabilities and its events across Australia and New Zealand attracted upwards of 250 people.
At least 60 people are expected to attend Wednesday’s meeting, which aims to form an interim committee to get the south-west branch off the ground.
Training will then get under way for the program’s volunteers.
“The support we get locally is phenomenal,” Mr Bradley said.
The south-west branch would then aim to hold its first event in February.
Mr Bradley said there was a definite need for the organization.
“One in 20 Australians have a serious disability and about 30 per cent have mobility issues,” he said.
“We tap into that core group of people who may want to go for a surfing experience.
“We’re just there to make people feel special for a day.”
He said volunteers also had a lot to gain.
“I don’t think the volunteers could possibly get as much out of it as the participants, but they do get the bug,” Mr Bradley said.
“We’re just about putting smiles on dials.”
The DSA originally began about 30 years ago to help injured surfers back into the water, but grew after disabled people were keen to get involved.
“When the Disabled Surfers Association started back in 1986, the terms ‘beach’ and ‘disabled’ verged on seeming like an oxymoron to the casual inquirer,” Mr Bradley said.
“Today, all levels of society simply accept that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy the beach and its surrounds.”
The public meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 11 at the Pavillion meeting room from 7pm.
For more information contact Mr Bradley on 0458 759 999 or visit www.disabledsurfers.org