UH Med Now

How a day at the beach can improve life for those with neurological disorders, help overcome stigma

Date: February 8th, 2019 in Community Outreach, Student Life    Print or PDF

Pictured: MD students taking part in an AccesSurf outing at ʻEwa Beach. Photos by MD Candidate Jester Galiza.

Our first-year medical students are required to get involved in the community they intend to serve early, participating in a service project of their choice.

This year, the MS-1s (Class of 2022) volunteered with AccesSurf, a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower people with neurological conditions or injuries which limit their ability to be active. Through AccesSurf and its volunteers, a day at the beach with lots of active water programs becomes possible.

The volunteers helped the AccesSurf clients navigate souped-up wheelchairs through the gleaming sand at White Plains Beach in ʻEwa Beach, Oʻahu to get to the ocean. There, with the students’ help they could swim or surf.

Helping a man get into the ocean.

Students are shown getting the surfing gear ready.

Getting the surfing gear ready.

Camaraderie like only that found between our MD students at JABSOM.

Camaraderie like only that found between our MD students at JABSOM.

These joyful photos are courtesy of Jester Galiza, MD 2022 Class President.

Related story:
It just so happens that Simone M. Schmid MPH, Cara Troy Short, and Claudio R. Nigg, PhD (Professor, Office of Public Health Studies, UH Mānoa) collaborated on a study, which was described in an article in this month’s issue of the Hawaiʻi Journal of Medicine and Public Health titled “Physical Activity & People with Disabilities — A Qualitative Process and Outcome Pilot Evaluation of the Non-Profit Organization AccesSurf Hawai‘i.” (Download the February Issue HERE.)

They wrote that “Factors and areas emerged from this study are possible parameters for future evaluation purposes to not only identify, but also create and implement research-based outcome measures for adaptive sports and surfing, also as a tool for inclusion. Within research it is important to visualize the need for research and exchange between researchers and representatives of local communities with the focus on people with disabilities and adaptive program designers.”

“While limited in scope, and admittedly not totally free of bias, the researchers concluded that their study did find that programs such as AccesSurf can play an important role towards improvement in physical activity for people with neurological health conditions resulting into disabilities in Hawai‘i, while also creating an inclusive community and counteracting stigma.” –Hawaiʻi Journal of Medicine and Public Health.

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