A Walk on Water program offers surf therapy to children with special needs

MALIBU, Calif. (KABC) -- Ari Markow explains the joy he and his son Max felt at their first Surf Therapy Day, hosted by A Walk on Water, a non-profit organization.

"They came to us very calm, explained how the day would be, kind of put us at ease," said Markow.

"A Walk on Water is about providing surf therapy for families with special needs children and adults," said Stephen Lippman, president of A Walk on Water.

Lippman said the volunteer organization has been around for five years and puts on seven such events every year.

It all got started by Pat Notaro III, who loves water sports and had a passion to give back to kids in need.

"We're all surfers at heart, and we all love the ocean and what it does for us," said Lippman.

Markow certainly noticed what it does for his son.

"They took him out to the water, and I lined up on the beach with all these volunteers and all these other parents. My child was being cheered for by an entire beach. As he came in surfing, I could see the pride on his face. He was doing something that even typical kids don't get to do," said Markow.

The kids also enjoy surf dog Haole.

"Haole is 9 years old. He's been surfing for about five years. He has this personality that is really safe and calm and inviting to them," said Kim Murphy, of Ventura.

The kids also get one-on-one surf coaching from the pros.

"CPR-certified, big-wave surfers, ocean swimmers, lifeguards. We want to provide the safest Surf Therapy Day that we can," Lippman said.

Start time is 9 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m., welcoming those who could use some of the water's magic.

On Saturday at Surfrider Beach, it's a special day. Haole's will be on the surf board with special needs kids, and there will be lots of crafts, fun, massages, healthy food and more. The best part? It'll be free.
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