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Autism Society, SB Seals on Board for Surf & Beach Day

Saturday's event gives local children with autism the opportunity to learn to surf

The Autism Society of Santa Barbara has announced its continuing partnership with the Santa Barbara Seals for a one-day event to teach children with autism to surf.

The Autism Society and the Santa Barbara Seals will host Surf & Beach Day for children with autism spectrum disorders from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 14, at Leadbetter Beach in Santa Barbara.

Each child will have the opportunity to learn how to surf from qualified, professional surf instructors. There will be a 3-to-1 instructor to student ratio in the water.

Kayaking, beach games, arts and crafts, face painting and boogie boards also will be available to the children.

“This is such an honor and privilege to be involved in something so essential and unique to the Santa Barbara community,” said JP Garcia, founding member of the Santa Barbara Seals.

Marcia Eichelberger, president of the Autism Society of Santa Barbara, said, “For the past five years, we have been able to realize our dream of hosting a surfing program tailored to our children with autism because of the talent and enthusiasm of the Santa Barbara Seals. Their skills as surfers and instructors, along with their desire to make surfing accessible to everyone, will make this day, once again, an extraordinary event for our children and their families, and a gift to Santa Barbara.”

Mayor Helene Schneider is expected to attend Saturday’s event to show her support.

Autism is the most common of the pervasive developmental disorders, affecting an estimated 1 in 110 children born, according to 2009 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means that as many as 1.5 million Americans today are believed to have some form of autism.

Education, awareness, advocacy and support form the cornerstones of the Autism Society of Santa Barbara’s mission. It offers an informational foundation for family support, current medical practices and clinical recommendations.

— Marcia Eichelberger is the president of the Autism Society of America, Santa Barbara Chapter.

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