Video Transcript

Radical surfing in Brazil - 13th August 2021 View All

Here on the sandy shores of Santos in Brazil, age and ability present no barrier to the surf.

Two years ago, legendary Brazilian surfer Francisco Araña founded the Radical School of Adapted Surfing. His ethos is that good health is impossible without happiness and surfing brings just such happiness.

Malu Mendes bears testimony to Araña's belief, becoming a parasurfing world champion in 2020 despite having been born with the serious neurological condition cerebral palsy.

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."

But it's not merely serious competitors like Mendes who have gained so much from the school. In the short time since it was set up, a host of children, teens and adults have reaped the benefits of surfing to ease health conditions, including autism, Downs Syndrome, amputations and cerebrovascular problems.

The first hurdle for Araña to overcome was designing a more versatile board.

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."

Having been left with less than 10 percent vision following an infection during infancy, Miguel Almeida finds his other senses come to the fore once he is on his board.

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.

Through the assistance he has received from the school, Almeida can now follow in the footsteps of Malu Mendes and accomplish his goal of competing in December's World Parasurfing Championships in California. View Less

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