NARRAGANSETT- Assistant Kinesiology Professor at the University of Rhode lsland Emily Clapham has created a new adapted physical education program for students with disabilities that allows them to enjoy the relaxing activity of surfing.
Clapham arrived at URI in 2009 and inherited the adapted physical education program from the instructor who previously started the program. She decided to create the Surf Ocean Therapy Intervention program last year after realizing how much the children enjoyed the adapted aquatic program.
“What I was noticing was that the kids were coming in from their day being in school and whatever they had to do and they would come in all stressed out and we would put them all in the pool and play and swim,” said Clapham. “Then at the end they would leave and we couldn’t get them out of the pool because they love it so much, so I was thinking I bet they would really like surfing.”
Clapham has been surfing since she was a teenager and said that she has always found surfing as a very relaxing a therapeutic activity. Even though surfing is a very strenuous activity, she feels that surfing gives you a deeper feeling of relaxation than other forms of exercising like going to the gym.
“It is strenuous but it is also very relaxing when you are finished and you get just a sense of gain at the end,” said Clapham. “Some surfers actually say it is like a spiritual activity, you are given that time between waves and you have that time to reflect on your life.”
She began to do research on ocean therapy for children with disabilities and found some programs like surfers healing, which is a surfing program for children with autism. After researching, Clapham decided she wanted to make her program for children will all different types of disabilities and the children of her program range from age 5 to 19. The program had its first trial run in 2011, where the children came to the beach on one day so Clapham could observe how the children reacted to surfing.
For the rest of this story and more local news, pick up the July 5 issue of the Narragansett Times.