Our Story

Our Story

A Walk On Water (“AWOW”) provides Surf Therapy to children with special needs or disability. The ocean’s transformative properties empower our participants, who enjoy a much-deserved day of laughter, love, and acceptance alongside their family. For one perfect, restorative day at the beach, there are no labels. Everyone is an Athlete.

AWOW works closely with our local communities, businesses, volunteers and watermen — brought together in service of a shared mission — to help those most in need experience the calming and therapeutic effects of the electrifying, living ocean; and, in the process, showcase the best of surf culture.

Since launching in 2012, AWOW has welcomed over 1,000 families and provided Surf Therapy to over 2,000 children and adults in need. Our mission is to reach every child in need, especially those who have never had the chance to experience the healing power of Surf Therapy. Donations to A Walk On Water go directly to hosting additional events in new locales, serving ever more Athletes in need.

Surf therapy is the act of guided surf instruction — provided by expertly trained Surf Therapists — in concert with a carefully constructed support structure of volunteers and supporters; it truly takes a village. AWOW Athletes gain confidence through the magical thrill of a walk on water, experiencing the true “stoke” of surfing and a sense of pride and accomplishment — all while being cheered on by family and friends. Siblings (and even parents!) surf alongside the Athlete, allowing the family to bond over a powerful shared experience. At the end of the day, each Athlete is presented with the trophy they earned in front of all their cheering fans.

AWOW Surf Therapy is more than just surfing: the entire family unit is treated to a well-deserved day of respite, complete with healthy food and drink, live music, art, yoga, and more.The letters we receive from families after a day of Surf Therapy tell us all we need to know:

     “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would see my child surf!”

     “The volunteers who are truly angels on earth have become like family!”

     “Our little family was loved and supported beyond what I could have ever anticipated.”

     “We went from sensory overload on the road (to a surf therapy event) to our son taking his noise reducing headphones off on the way back home.”

     “Noah returned to preschool the next week and was different. He was calm. He was participating. He was happy.”

     “Surf therapy is wonderful, and it works!”

AWOW Surf Therapy events are held across the United States, with the majority taking place in Southern California. Current, prospective, and past locations include: Austin, TX; Cardiff, CA; Huntington Beach, CA; Malibu, CA; Montauk, NY; Oceanside, CA; San Clemente, CA; San Diego, CA; Santa Barbara, CA; Santa Cruz, CA; Santa Monica, CA; Spring Lake, NJ; Venice, CA; Ventura, CA; and Virginia Beach, VA.

Events run March to November, and are subject to safe surf conditions. The therapeutic benefit of Surf Therapy has been shown to multiply with increased frequency of attendance, so Athletes are encouraged to attend as many Surf Therapy experiences as possible each year.

AWOW has set an audacious goal to reach over 1,000 children in need through Surf Therapy in 2018, and over 1,500 per year by 2020.

Sign up, donate, or learn more at www.awalkonwater.org

A Walk On Water - We Are Surf Therapy

Surf Therapy

Surf Therapy is defined as a form of water therapy whereby the participant is introduce to the ocean and surfing through guided surf instruction, either tandem surfing with an instructor on the same board, or surfing solo with close instructor oversight. Surf Therapy has been shown to have myriad positive effects, including

  • Increased self-confidence and pride from successfully accomplishing a sometimes scary goal
  • Improved interaction with peers and adults through the positive, supportive AWOW environment

Children experience the true “stoke” of surfing and a sense of accomplishment as family and friends cheer them on from the beach. Brothers and sisters also participate, helping to solidify an often strained bond between siblings. Our surf events focus on both the athletes and their families, who are treated to a well-deserved day of relaxation, healthy food, and lifestyle guidance.



A WALK ON WATER provides Surf Therapy to individuals with special needs.

We do this by hosting Surf Therapy events that celebrate and honor courageous kids, adults and their families. For one beautiful day at the beach, there are no labels. Everyone is an athlete.

The goal of Surf Therapy is for the athletes to feel the thrill and confidence that only “A Walk On Water” can provide. Their families are fully supported and cared for as they share a much deserved day of fun, relaxation, and respite.

We work closely with the local community, businesses and its volunteers and waterman. It is a true collaboration of like-minded individuals brought together in service of a shared mission – to help others experience the calming and therapeutic effects of the electrifying, living ocean and in the process showcase the best of surf culture.

AWOW’s extensive list of partners, along with our structure and volunteer base, bring each Surf Therapy event to life and facilitate an overwhelmingly positive experience for everyone who attends.

Surf Therapy healing us all!



July 12th, 2019|

My son, Skylar, was born with many challenges. His doctors and nurses did not think he was going to survive. Skylar the Fighter is now approaching 3 years old. He has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and is G Tube dependent. Skylar participates in 9-10 therapies each week (OT- feeding, PT- motor skills, Speech, Early Intervention and horseback riding therapy). My wife has dedicated the last couple of years to make sure that Skylar has all of the therapies he needs in order to thrive. My mother introduced us to A Walk on Water recently. We participated in our first surf therapy session in Ventura, Ca. We had the most amazing time at the event! It felt like a big happy family. Everybody in attendance was there for the same reason- allowing our special needs children the ability to have a great time in a wonderful beach setting with extraordinary instructors. AWOW was so welcoming from the moment we arrived to the registration tent. The volunteers, staff, and surf instructors were fabulous! We were on the wait list so we really didn’t know if Sky was going to have the chance to get out on the water. A couple spots opened up, lucky us! Sky was fitted for a wet suit and life jacket. I was very nervous to send our special needs kid into the ocean with someone I’ve never met before. We were guided to the North end of the beach to meet the surf instructors. Skylar was paired up with Anthony, who has been working with AWOW for approx 7 years. The surf boards appear to be longer than a typical long board and wider as well. Anthony assured us that Sky was in good hands. He is a very experienced surfer and that helped ease some of my anxiety. There were so many people in the water during the afternoon surf session. The safety crew wearing red rash guards seemed to be everywhere in the event someone fell off. Skylar and Anthony were in the water for about 60-75 minutes. We could tell that Sky was having so much fun. They caught 4-5 waves and Sky even stood up on the board with assistance. There’s an adrenaline rush that takes over when you watch your kid conquer the ocean on a surf board. It almost brought happy tears to our eyes. Special needs families struggle emotionally every day because life has not turned out the way we envisioned. Today we are all champions! Thank you AWOW for providing a safe place where dreams do come true. We have been on a “surf high” for a couple weeks now and are absolutely hooked. See you next time in Huntington Beach! Our family purchased a bunch of items from the merch tent in Ventura. We are so proud to wear AWOW gear in public. Thank you for giving us a memory we will never forget.



July 11th, 2019|

AWOW is an outstanding surfing organization of extremely caring, experienced, and committed volunteers, surfing instructors and therapists that have impacted in many positive ways the life of our son who is a person on the spectrum (ASD). Because our son has also other neurological conditions that limit him to participate in regular sports, prior to finding out about AWOW we could not even imagine that our son one day would be able to acquire the skills necessary to surf. Due to many sensory integration challenges, such as having defensiveness to the water or not being able to tolerate the water or the lack of mastering swimming skills because of a developmental coordination disorder, our son has had many disadvantages growing up despite the many therapies we have consistently provided for him.

In 2018, we first made it to the surfing event in Malibu along with an additional ABA therapist to provide support for our son in his efforts to experience surfing for the first time in his life. Needless to say, the event was super organized, accessible, and the volunteers and staff welcomed us by embracing us with kindness and assisted us to get situated into a safe and relaxing space for the entire family. The Malibu surfing event was definitely relaxing, therapeutic and transformative for our son.

This positive experience made our son feel safe and supported into what we consider his new community where he feels accepted without any judgement because even though he “does not look autistic” or “does not look disabled,” statements we often hear, our son now enjoys surfing and truly appreciates the opportunity he receives at each surfing event we get invited to attend, whether it’s Malibu, Huntington or Ventura beach.

We are willing to travel long distance, so that our son can spend time with other athletes and enjoy the calming yet powerful effects of the ocean under the care and supervision of the most dedicated surfing instructors. We trust our son’s safety and forever are grateful to the AWOW team for engaging our son in this memorable surfing experience. We’re looking forward to our next surfing event at Bolsa Chica!!!

Thank you and may God bless this organization so that other children with disabilities may have the opportunity our son has had so far.



Join the A WALK ON WATER Family

By joining the AWOW Family you are forever changing the lives of families in need, and we welcome you to join us to personally witness the effect of your donation at an AWOW Surf Therapy event near you. Thank you for your donation.