When Sean, a young teenager from County Fermanagh, arrived for his first surf lesson with Liquid Therapy in Bundoran he was a reluctant participant and hated the beach so much he had to wear socks.
“I would have to carry him to the ocean,” recalls Liquid Therapy founder, Tom Losey.
But all that changed when they caught their first wave and Sean, realising that the socks were getting in his way, took them off.
"On the second wave, he popped to his feet on the board and that was it. He ran up the beach and into his parents’ arms and that was the problem with sand gone. He continues to surf every year since and it has changed the lives of that family.”
The award-winning not-for-profit organisation, Liquid Therapy was created in 2011 to provide one-to-one support for young people who wanted to experience surfing but were unable to participate in mainstream opportunities.
Volunteers for this good cause work with a range of young people facing various physical, mental, emotional or behavioural challenges.
“Because of the nature of the one-to-one service, you are able to engage with each child at their level,” explains Tom.
A €4,000 grant from the National Lottery Good Causes fund went towards the purchase of specialised larger surf boards with handles which enable more than one person to be on the board at a time.
Liquid Therapy offers a packed programme of activities throughout the summer culminating with an Ability Surf Open in September.
Founded on the belief that everybody should be able to benefit from the therapeutic experience of the ocean, Tom explains what inspires him:
“I know what I get from the ocean when I surf but when you see the success of each of these young people and when you see them exceed the expectations of their own families and communities, how could you not do this?”
Approximately 30 cent of every €1 spent on National Lottery games go back to funding for Good Causes in the areas of sport, youth, health, welfare, education, arts and heritage. In total, more than €5 Billion has been raised for Good Causes since the National Lottery was established 30 years ago. In 2016 alone, the National Lottery raised over €210 million for such good causes.