How Surf Therapy Transformed Harry’s Life

Photograph of two people interacting, their feet are submerged in a body of water. A surfboard between them.

A Lifetime of Medical Struggles

Harry was born with a rare genetic condition: 12Q14 microdeletion syndrome. He has had a really tough time medically in his short life so far. He had open heart surgery at 18 months old, didn’t walk until he was 3, and when other babies were crawling around at soft play he spent his time in standing frames. He had eye surgery at the age of four to correct severe squints. He is autistic and has ADHD, as well as another rare disease, Buschke Ollendorff syndrome, which affects the bones and joints as well as connective tissue.

He also faced exclusion from school and time in a pupil referral unit before age 6 due to behaviour issues stemming from being in an environment ill-suited for his complex needs.

A Life-Changing Discovery

With all these challenges, it would have been easy to want to shelter Harry from the world. But then his family found The Wave Project and everything changed. His mom admits she was hesitant at first, afraid the surf therapy would overwhelm him:

“But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Surf therapy has provided Harry with a safe space, with no expectations other than to have fun and be himself.​”

Before the referral, they had never heard of surf therapy. Now they are determined to spread the word so every child who needs support can experience the life-changing benefits.

A Brighter Future

Harry looks forward to his surf session all week, he says the water is cold at first but “soon warms up because I’m having fun.”

Harry beams, “I feel so proud, mummy are you proud?” To which his mom responds, “Yes baby boy, more than you’ll ever know.”

They hope to continue in the surf club when therapy ends so Harry can keep nurturing his new-found passion and confidence.

To help us continue supporting children and families like Harry’s, please consider making a donation.

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Photograph of two people wearing The Wave Project T-shirts at a beach.