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!



October 17th, 2019|

Surf therapy doesn’t sum it up. It’s pure goodness. These amazing human beings provide more than lunch and a day at the beach for families and their special needs children(of all ages).

They take hours with a single child if that is what is needed. The patience, skill, kindness and darkness melting love these amazing volunteers bring to the task cannot be overstated.

The impact of this day on the families that participate creates new friendships, shatters barriers, builds confidence, opens minds and melds hearts. AWOW changes lives.

I’m beyond grateful for the continued blessing AWOW delivers with the help of many generous donors and am proud to make my small monthly contribution.

If you know a family growing with autism, downs, ADD, physical challenges- let them know they can sign up for A Walk On Water.

If you can, sign up to donate. This organization is not for profit. It is for people.



September 23rd, 2019|

I’ve have been having a hard time knowing just what to say to express my gratitude for the experience my children had on September 6 in Montauk! It was absolutely incredible and amazing for my family as a whole. Taking my kids anywhere out of our usual element is difficult and this was a source of worry for me. From the moment we walked up and checked in for attendance – Agatha welcomed us with open arms and kind words. Bob who was in charge of the water safety made a point of explaining why my kids couldn’t just run in the water – using rocks and drawing in the sand – I was shell shocked! Seeing someone who has never met us take the time to simply explain on a level that my son could understand was awesome – in a world of I said no because I am the adult and you are the child this was so reassuring. Several other moms chatted with me and reassured me that my kids would be fine – not to worry. The surfing itself was amazing watching both my children age 8 and 5 get up on the board – was a sight to see. My son tried a “typical” surf camp and was so deflated and disappointed because he couldn’t even stand on the board – even the longest one that they had and he saw many kids he knew from school younger than him being able to do it with ease and it really embarrassed him. However, working with Pat he did really well and 3 days later for the first time he had the confidence to swing on the swings and pump his legs and do it himself!!! A goal that we have had for years.
My “typical” daughter was allowed to participate as well which was so incredible!! She was able to get an opportunity that she will not forget! She is only 5 and the impression that was made on her is awe inspiring. Normally any event we go to she is an after thought here she was just as important as her big brother and welcomed just as heartily!
The weather wasn’t the greatest on the Friday however it was the brightest day we had as a family – Agatha made sure that both myself and my husband got massages and I feel like we have been welcomed into a new community that although I have only met them once have touched our lives in ways we have yet to see! We can’t wait to come to another event and my husband would like to volunteer to assist on the beach – thank you again to Agatha and her kind words and enthusiasm (even when my daughter almost refused to go in the water because she wanted to go with a girl – Agatha was there kicking off her boots ready to get her out there )
A walk on Water is truly a group of inspirational and accepting people from all over – I can’t wait to spend more time with them.

-Sue, Phin, Moxie & Brandt


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.