The curious confluence of science and surfing

If you’re in Toronto this weekend, I’ve got an event for you:

Aloha Toronto.

Now, I’m sure you’re not thinking to yourself, “ah yes, Toronto Canada, a prime surfing destination!”. But this weekend, you should be, because starting tonight, the good folks at the Paskowitz Surf Camp are bringing their show to town, all in support of autism research and care, Surfers Healing, and The Hospital for Sick Children. There’s a kickoff party tonight, a luau on Saturday the 25th, and loads of free activities Saturday and Sunday.

Izzy Paskowitz and Josh Tracy, Toronto
The guy who started it all – former pro Izzy Paskowitz, with fellow surfer Josh Tracy.

Surfers Healing was started by Izzy Paskowitz, one of the sons of the legendary Doc Paskowitz, patriarch of what’s been called the “first family of surfing”. Starting from Izzy and Danielle Paskowitz’s experiences with their autistic son Isaiah, Surfers Healing has grown to an organization that has brought thousands of autistic children to the ocean, and now to the sometimes-chilly and broad reaches of Lake Ontario, for some therapeutic fun. Having spent an hour or so in a downtown hotel conference room this morning with Izzy and some of his colleagues, I can tell you that these guys are the real deal – serious surfers who are also passionate about working with autistic kids, and raising money as they do it.

J Riddle and Jeff Ekberg, Aloha Toronto Press Conference
Another surfing legend, J Riddle, with Surfers Healing’s Jeff Ekberg.

And if that’s not enough to get you out on what promises to be a beautifully sunny Toronto weekend, how about this? Garrett McNamara, famous for surfing a record-breaking 30-metre wave last November, will also be on hand. If you like extreme sports, surfing, or both, and feel like being star-struck – this is definitely the guy.

We do a lot of autism research here at SickKids, which, in the way of all science, sometimes leads us down unusual paths. Talking with professional surfers who know more about working with autistic kids than I ever will was certainly a different way to spend a Friday morning – but a fun and welcome one.

Get on out there, Toronto – the waves are waiting.

About Richard Wintle

I am Canadian by heritage, and a molecular biologist and human geneticist by training. My day job is Assistant Director of a large genome centre, where I do various things along the lines of "keeping the wheels on". In my spare time, I tend to run around with a camera, often chasing horses, race cars, musicians, and occasionally, wildlife.
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2 Responses to The curious confluence of science and surfing

  1. Helen Hatzis says:


    Thanks so much for the write up…I only just discovered it and posted it on the Aloha Toronto page. Mahalo for your kind words.

    Sending you aloha,
    Helen Hatzis
    Founder, Aloha Toronto

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Helen. I think I sent out a tweet when I posted this, but I should have pinged you an email specifically – sorry about that. And thanks for the kind words. 🙂

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