Creating Best Days for Youth with Special Needs
Give your child a chance to feel the thrill of surfing a wave with the assistance of our capable and passionate volunteers.
Best Day provides kids and young adults with special needs the opportunity to take on new challenges successfully building confidence and self-esteem in the process.
We serve people ages 4-24 although we’ve been known to stretch that upper limit. Our programs are inclusive meaning we don’t serve a specific special needs group nor limit or control who we serve. Our philosophy is we’re people first. We take time to educate our volunteers that the kids we serve are just that, KIDS. We also take time to help them understand some of the nuances in understanding and relating to some of the special needs related to their particular challenges.
We serve kids with developmental, physical, injury or illness induced challenges such as; Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Cystic Fibrosis, Down syndrome, hearing or vision impairment, Muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injuries, cancer, etc.
We have special beach wheelchairs for those needing them, and custom built surfchairs featuring Formula 1 racing seats mounted on carefully designed and crafted surfboard by world renowned shaper Bob Pearson.
We have a $30 administrative fee, yet it costs us approximately $200 per child for each event, so donations are greatly appreciated at what ever level you feel comfortable contributing. We offer a self selected scholarship program so that cost will not limit any child from being able to join us for a Best Day event.
Our Day at the Beach events usually have the following activities. Please note that based upon the venue or conditions these activities may or may not be available.
- Tandem Surfing
- Body Boarding
- SUP aka Stand Up Paddling
- Outrigger Canoeing
- Beach Obstacle Course
- Beach Games such as volleyball, bubbles, sand castle building etc.
One of the unique elements of our program is that we pair a Beach Buddy with your child for the day. This person will be your child’s escort or concierge throughout the day. This gives you the freedom to just watch and enjoy the day. We’ve also found that sometimes kids will take on new challenges with an open mind more readily with a “stranger” than a parent. We also seen many times where a parent is convinced their child will not be willing or capable of taking on one of our activities only to see their child take it on with gusto and have the time of their life.
Most of our events run from 9:00 AM till about 1:00 PM.
We provide a wetsuit, life vest and helmet for your child. The helmet and life vest are mandatory, even if your child is a great swimmer and/or hates helmets. We’ve served over 4000 kids now and have found that some kids might protest, but working with our volunteers, they will wear the helmet so they can participate.
At lunch time we serve a hot lunch, typically pizza or burritos for your child. We do not have the ability to provide special meals so if your child requires a special diet please plan accordingly. We also are not able to serve your family so please make appropriate accommodations.
At the end of the day we have an award ceremony where your child will come up in front of the group to receive a team surfer medal and goodie bag. We follow up with a group picture and then you are free to leave.
Capacity for all Best Day events is limited for safety, so spots fill up fast. Since space is available on a first-come, first-served basis, please join our mailing list today so you will know when our registration links will be available.
Frequently Asked Questions
Fun fact! According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, your child has a 1 in 11.5 million chance of being bit by a shark. If we perceived sharks to be a threat to our participants, Best Day Foundation wouldn’t exist in the first place. Don’t worry–your kids are safe to surf with us!
Best Day Foundation is a not-for-profit, volunteer-run organization; we’re limited by budget, venue availability, and the busy schedules of our volunteers. If you love Best Day Foundation and you’d like to increase our ability to host events for special needs children, please consider donating or reaching out to fill a leadership role.
Many parents have told us that it helps to talk about the event beforehand, while supplementing the conversation with pictures and videos of prior events that can be found online. Don’t worry: your child’s Beach Buddy will be patient with and supportive of him, striking the perfect balance between accommodating his trepidations and encouraging him to step outside of his comfort zone, meet new people, and try new things.
From the bottom of our hearts, we wish we didn’t have to ask for donations so often–but without your contributions, Best Day Foundation couldn’t continue to exist. Each of our events costs thousands of dollars to operate, and although we do apply for grants and benefit from sponsorships, the majority of our budget is generated by generous individuals, like yourself.
In most cases, we wait until the absolute last minute when deciding whether to cancel an event. Once we determine that we need to cancel, we’ll send an email and write a post on our social media pages to let you know.
We serve kids ages 4-24 although we’ve been known to stretch that upper limit.
Unfortunately, we aren’t able to accommodate participants who arrive over thirty minutes late. That said, it will be possible for you to leave early; all we ask is that you let us know, so we can give your child her goodie bag, t-shirt, and medal in exchange for participating in our event!
After your child has been registered and partnered with his Beach Buddy, you’ll be free to leave! That said, most parents enjoy the experience of watching their kids excel at our activities, so we’d recommend that you stay and have fun with us. If you do decide to depart, please make sure that we have your correct contact information and let us know when you’ll be coming back.
Ideally, your child should wear a swimsuit or another outfit she’ll feel comfortable leaving on underneath the wetsuit we’ll provide her.
Because we’ll provide your child’s wetsuit, lifejacket, helmet, sunscreen, snacks, drinks, lunch, and water sports equipment, all you need to bring for him is a towel, a dry change of clothes, and anything else you think might increase his comfort at our event. Unfortunately, we won’t have enough sunscreen, snacks, drinks, or lunch for the participants’ families, so please plan accordingly and pack your family whatever else you would want to bring for a regular day at the beach.
In order to ensure that your child stays safe, we’ll require that she wears a lifejacket and a helmet while participating in our activities. Technically, the wetsuit will be optional, but due to cooler water and air temperatures, we’ll highly recommend that she wear it. At first, your child might be uncomfortable with the idea of the outfit, but once she realizes what awesome activities it will allow her to do, she won’t be able to wait to put it on!
Your child has the power! He’ll be able to decide exactly what he does and doesn’t want to do.
Although parents and siblings are welcome to watch and cheer, only children with special needs can participate in the activities we offer.
We would love to have you volunteer–but we also want you to be able to enjoy the experience of cheering on your child as she excels in the activities. It’s up to you whether you’d like to volunteer or simply watch from the shore.
Unfortunately, because our lunches are often donated, we don’t have the luxury of gearing them to meet various dietary needs. If your child has dietary restrictions, please pack a lunch for him. Typical lunches include pizza, burritos, and hamburgers or hot dogs.
Sadly, due to the budget constraints that impact ourselves and our donors, we won’t be able to provide lunch to the families of our participants. Please bring food if you’d like to eat at the event!
If you want to stay in the loop, please CREATE AN ACCOUNT in our NEW registration system and follow us on social media using the links at the top right corner of this page!
Typically, we limit participation to one event per child per year. That said, occasionally, we’ll have additional availability, in which case we’ll allow participants who have already attended an event during the season to return! This process is handled on a first-come, first-served basis–so if you want to maximize your child’s chances, go ahead and register for more events as early as you can!
Most likely, yes! At our events, we always take the time to assess and adapt to the diverse needs of our participants. We promise to provide your child with a personalized, fun, and safe experience. If you have specific concerns, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com.
Although we’ll do our best to create a spot for your child this season, if we just can’t fit her in, then we still have good news for you! Children who end up stuck on this year’s waitlist will receive priority access to register for events the following season. For this reason, please make sure to inform us if you end up updating your email address.