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Surfing for all in Brazil - 13th August 2021 View All

On Santos’s golden sands in Brazil, people of all ages and abilities are getting ready to surf.

Two years ago, Brazilian surfing legend Francisco Araña created the Radical School of Adapted Surfing. He believes you can only be healthy if you’re happy and that surfing brings happiness.

Malu Mendes, who lives with cerebral palsy, confirms Araña's belief. The 2020 parasurfing world champion has her doctors puzzled.

Malu Mendes: "I was born with cerebral palsy, and when I went to the doctor after years of surfing, he said there was no explanation as to why I am doing so well. My neurological exam is that of someone who can't walk well, what made the difference was surfing."

The school is open to all, not only those who are focused on winning. Since the school started, hundreds of children and adults with a range of disabilities and health issues have benefitted from surfing.

First Araña had to develop a surfboard that would work for a variety of needs.

Francisco Araña: "I built this board with adaptations like these: to lift my chest, for me to place my chin, so I can further adapt. For example, if I have some kind of physical condition in my arm, I work on very simple positions to adapt my body and not injure myself and it’s very cheap to build."

Surfer Miguel Almeida lost over 90 percent of his vision through illness as a baby. However, his other senses help compensate. They create a mental picture of the waves.

Miguel Almeida: "I can hear more than normal so I am able to visualize things in a different way, not with my eyes but with my ears. And when I am surfing, with the sound of the waves I know if the waves are big or small.

Miguel’s goal is now to compete in December’s World Parasurfing Championships in California. With the school's support, he's been able to make this happen. View Less

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