'Surf’s up’ for SEN school pupils at Whitstone
Highgate Hill House School, a co-educational school for children with special educational needs aged 5 to 16 years, near Holsworthy, has fully embraced the opportunities on its doorstep, by offering ‘surf club’ lessons to some of its pupils.
Initial sessions were held by Outdoor Adventure based at Widemouth Bay, and then subsequent sessions by the schools own Outdoor Learning Instructor, Ollie Norton, who holds various surf qualifications himself.
Ollie said: “I find surfing a great way to relax and clear my head, and I’m really passionate about teaching young people to learn to surf so that they can reap the benefits too. The calm, quiet connection you feel with nature is like nothing else.
“Initially the children were a bit sceptical about how cold the water would be at this time of year, but it’s surprisingly warm. You soon get used to it!
“The safety of the children is paramount at all times, so we start off slowly with learning to get your wetsuit on, how to carry your surfboard and general beach safety. Then we move on to paddling and starting to catch waves in the prone position (lying down) before finally catching a wave standing up”.
Sir Peter Birkett, School Founder, added: “It's great to see the children’s confidence building each week, achieving things that some of them thought they’d never be capable of. It’s well documented that people learning to surf can reap huge mental health benefits from it, so we’re very pleased to be able to offer it to our children. They are very keen to resume lessons once lockdown is over”.