JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Learning to surf is no simple task, but imagine doing it without your senses. That's exactly what more than 70 blind and deaf students across the state learned Tuesday at Huguenot Park, most of them with great success.
There's nothing like the sights and sounds of a beautiful day at the beach. But for children who are hearing and visually impaired, there's nothing like the feel of a surfboard beneath their feet.
10-year-old Veronica Hyatt is partially blind but you'd never know it if you saw her on her surf board. She dove right into her new hobby Tuesday morning.
"I had a lot of fun surfing," she said. Things started off a bit rocky, but it didn't take long for Hyatt to take to the waves. She was able to stand up on her board on her first try.
Hyatt was joined by more than 70 other blind and deaf children from across Florida as they learned to hang ten.
"I tell you there's nothing like the surf community here in Jacksonville," said Florida Surfing Association, Paul West. "The people are awesome, and they have such big hearts and souls and they've come together here."
The Florida Surfing Association teamed up with the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind to make it all happen. It's called the Silent Surfers program, and by lunchtime, almost every child was able to get up on their board.
"Because we have such good crew and staff and right equipment on a food beach with the right waves it's pretty, I'd like to say it's easy," said West.
The process is as fun as it is therapeutic.
"The ocean has its own healing powers," said West. "The saltwater, it's very clean. It's very relaxing and the kids are able to come and do something that everybody does."
And for little Veronica Hyatt, it's inspiring.
"I want to be a pro surfer when I grow up," she said.