Surfing at Tobinworld

With student assistant Helen McAlister cheering on at right, Tobinworld student Semaj Kennedy rides a mechanical surfboard during the Wave Surfing Adventures event at the Glendale school on in July 2013. (Raul Roa / Glendale News Press)

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This Thursday, 15 Glendale autistic and developmentally disabled students will surf the waves off Santa Monica, some for the first time ever.

On Monday, the Tobinworld pupils had a preview of their upcoming beach visit with a chance to hop on a surfing simulator to test their balance.

The machine was brought to campus by Matt Stone, owner of Costa Mesa’s Buccaneer Board Riders surf wear and nephew of Tobinworld’s founder, Judy Weber.

“[If] you tell somebody who doesn’t surf, what’s surfing’s like — you never can explain it unless you do it,” he said.

Last year, as he took Tobinworld students to surf for the first time, he recalled how one student, who only had use of one arm, positioned himself on the board in time to ride the first wave that came his way.

“He was already at a major deficit,” Stone said. “The first wave, he was up and running. That look on his face, I call it pure stoke, that was it. He had it all over his face like he had just conquered the largest mountain. That will never leave him.”

Members of the foundation Project Save Our Surf will also help Stone teach the kids on Thursday.

Last year, 9-year-old Laylani Espitia surfed for the first time, and she’ll try it again this week.

“It was very fun,” she said. “It was really cool when you go on. It was scary a little.”

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