Students from Florida School for the Deaf and Blind get surf lessons

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - Fifty-five students from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind have a new skill: surfing.

The Florida Surfing Association gave the students surfing lessons Thursday morning at Jacksonville Beach.

"It's all about developing self-esteem, self-confidence, and giving these kids a great time," said Paul West, president of the association.

They're called silent surfers.

"I felt that I couldn't believe that I did it my first time surfing," said Christian Begani, who's hard of hearing.

Sixty volunteers from the North Florida Surfing Association worked with FSDB out of St. Augustine to teach hearing and visually impaired children how to surf.

Robin Mitchell was nervous to bring her visually impaired grandson out to surf but says now she's happy she did.

"It's scary when you think about the ocean and a child that can't see, but hey, I can a little bit -- well, you know what I mean -- visually impaired," Mitchell said. "But they've taken care of that. These guys, the silent surfers, FSDB, they have all the crew out there, and I mean, they had like three and four people with each person and each kid and they got to just be kids and have a blast."

This is the third year the surfing association and the school have partnered to teach kids the skill, and they want to make a statement to the community.

"These kids are kids. They're not deaf, they're not blind," said Sue Hill, FSDB athletic summer camp director. "And people for that matter, that all people are the same. We're all here for a purpose."

In short, in the words of student Daniel Pelentis: "Deaf people can do anything."

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