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Surf camp held for children with special needs

Posted at 10:48 AM, May 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-10 18:13:28-04

PORT ARANSAS, TX — Wave after wave is a new adventure for little Wyatt Pyles. He has Down syndrome, and his parents, Jennifer and Jason Pyles say they knew surf therapy would be perfect for him.

"We try to expose him to anything we can get our hand on, any kind of sport, any kind of outdoor activity. He loves the water and getting wet; if he could stay here, he would," Jason said.

This was Wyatt's first time surfing, and he's totally rocking it.

"He's just like everybody else, he just learns things a little bit slower, and that's okay," said Jason.

Christopher Anteo is the Executive Director and Founder of Gnome Surf Therapy, a non-profit out of Rhode Island, helping those with disabilities improve certain skills.

"We're out there working on their physical and social and emotional well-being," Anteo said.

The idea to bring the non-profit to the Coastal Bend came from Meriel Bowman, a board member with Gnome Surf who lives in the area. She says she took her 8-year-old to the northeast to visit family and tried Gnome Surf and knew she had to help bring the organization to the area.

"It's pretty intense to see, and it makes you really proud to see your child experience something you never thought or hoped they would," Bowman said.

After the event happened this past weekend, both Anteo and Bowman say they hope to bring it back next year or even more than once a year.

"Even though I'm on the board, I live in Texas. I want the magic to be here. Our hope is to make this a bigger event year after year," Bowman said.

Accomplishing something many thought couldn't be done for some of these children is magical.

For information on how to volunteer or for more events, head to their website,