Special Needs Kids Hang 10

"It was amazing, absolutely amazing"

Surf's up! There are wipe-outs, but they usually end with smiles -- and kids with disabilities are getting a unique chance to hang 10.

The children, who wear life jackets, get on a long-board accompanied by a surfer.  When a good wave is in sight, the surfer gets on the board, and manuevers so that the child is balanced in the surfer's arms.  

Long Beach surfers and kids are getting the ride of their lives through Surfer's Way, a program that teams up special needs children with life-long surfers.

"I was afraid that they were going to fall off and if they were going to get hurt and the guys just picked them up by their life-jacket and they were surfing," said Jane Weisbrot.  "It was amazing, absolutely amazing."

Jane and Mitch Weisbrot have twin boys with autism.

"As a parent we go through therapies through all the issues that we have it gives us a day that everything is normal.  Everything is typical watching them doing something any child would be doing," said Mitch Weisbrot.

More than 90 kids, including Luke Campbell who has down syndrome, got to hang 10 or -- just hang out.  His mom was not sure if he would even enter the water.

"It's such a great organization and we'll be back to it," said Liz Campbell.

Behind Surfer's Way are two Long Beach legends.

For fifty years Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, who represents District 20, has helped children on Long Beach as both a lifeguard and a politician.

"I always focus on what our children can do not what they can't do," said Weisenberg.

Surf instructor Eliott Zuckerman, the Big Kahuna of Long Beach, started putting children with disabilities on surfboards back in the 1980's.  It started with a deaf child who was afraid to surf.

"I surf all over the world, but nothing compares to taking a kid in the water surfing.  We're making these kids experience what I experience every single day, multiply that by a thousand," said Zuckerman.

Zuckerman and Weisenberg started working together and built Surfer's Way into a non-profit group that now includes thirty volunteers and twelve surfers.

Surfer's Way meets up twice during the summer and plans on expanding into other seasons.

Weisenberg said a highlight came on a recent outing, when one child who has difficulty walking got up and surfed for the first time.

"[The] Child's comment after her surf in the water: 'One more time.' Absolutely," said Weisenberg.

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