Slyde Handboards has been a big supporter of A Walk On Water for years now. We're stoked to have all proceeds from SlydeFest go directly to their amazing non-profit organization.
Angela recently chatted on FB live with Sean Swentek the executive director of AWOW to find out more about him and the future of the organization.
AWOW 2018 goal is to reach 1000 kids this year with surf therapy. In the past 5 years they've helped over 2000 kids.
A Walk On Water was founded in 2012, they're a little over 6 years old "It's been a crazy, wild ride as with any business whether it's a for profit or non-profit business, there's so much that happens in those 1st few years. It's been super exciting to watch us grow, evolve, and change over the years, all while trying to stay true to our original mission."
At AWOW's core "there's something really magical, healing, therapeutic, about surfing. You ask anyone who participates in ocean sports, whether it be handboarding, bodysurfing, surfing, you feel better when you get out of the water. It cleanses you, it changes your mood."
This is a huge growth year for the organization, they went from hosting 6 events in 2017 to 11 events in 2018 to reach so many additional families this year.
Sean started working in non-profits involving children with special needs since 1999, when he started with the Special Olympics. He always did it on the side as he worked in his marketing career. He's adamant about devoting his life to fight for those that need a little helping hand.
His wife is a doctor, and she's 7months pregnant with their 1st child a girl. They have the name picked out, Sia Kahlo Swentek. Which is a combination of the Egyptian god of wisdom and his wife's favorite artist.
AWOW's mission includes involving siblings and families too. They believe in providing a day of "relief" for both the child involved and the entire family in order to share a success story, and accomplish something really difficult together. "We almost always take the sibling surfing, alongside the other child or parents to help understand why the experience is so powerful."
Sean's not into titles, but he's the executive director, and one of the co-founders. He's been there since the beginning, and was the 1st "employee" hired 5 months ago.
The kids who participate are referred to as athletes. "It's a word that's really important to us because its nondiscriminatory, non-labeling we never talk about the kids as being any different than anyone else. we're all athletes out there in the water together."
They have an expansive volunteer base, that always includes a big group of people cheering the kids on from the shoreline, and all are welcome to come do so.
One of his favorite testimonials is of Jacob, who had severe autism and was non-verbal. He had never spoken in his life, he started surfing with them at age 4. The first time out, AWOW team spent 2.5 hours even getting him in the water, he was not excited about it. The effort and patience was well worth it, as he spoke for the 1st time in his life that day saying ocean and water.
Michelle's diploma reads BA Psychology with a minor in English, and her license plate reads #CaliforniaDreaming4Life. She begin her career in the NYC fashion industry working with fashion and internet pioneer, Bluefly.com However, due the constant "nagging" of her entrepreneurial spirit, her crush on surfing, and hardcore love for the ocean, she chosen to call San Diego home for the past 10 years. On the west coast she 's chased waves & enlightenment working alongside "Gurus" in the online marketing & personal development industries. It in May 2012 she found her true Zen & Stoke, and joined the Slyde Handboards Team.