Ocean Heroes aims to enhance the lives of those living with autism through surfing. We take children and young adults on the autism spectrum out of their comfort zones and into the ocean to help break down barriers and develop confidence and self belief.
Luke Hallam has worked with children and young adults on the autism spectrum since early 2008 through his personal training business. Luke has experience in fund raising through his fund raiser ‘Paddle4Autism’ and raised money for early intervention programs at the Autism Association of Western Australia and also raised $20,000 to bring Surfers Healing to Perth for the first autism surfing event in Perth. Luke’s role in Ocean Heroes is in personal relations. Luke is also an advisor on the board of the Perth Autism School Advisory Group.
Sam Moyle has experience in a variety of charities prior to the set up of Ocean Heroes. He was a Surf Coordinator and Remote Communities Coordinator with ICEA Foundation, worked on the board of Perth Surfrider Foundation, and also helped out with Disabled Surfing Association (DSA). Sam’s roles and responsibilities with Ocean Heroes are focused on event preparation, operations and logistics.
Tom Johnston is the owner/operator of Go Surf Perth, a locally run surf school based in Scarborough. He is also a commercial property valuer and works part time for a local property firm based in Subiaco. Tom holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Graduate Certificate in Project Management as well as all relevant first aid and coaching accreditations for the sport of surfing.
‘Autism is a neurodevelopmental disability that severely comprises intellectual development, quality of life, inter-personal relationships, and mental health. The prevalence of autism has increased 50 fold over the past 30 years, and it is now estimated that at least 1% of children have the condition. There are an estimated 48,000 children with autism living in Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics). Ocean Heroes fills a much needed gap in the community. Children with autism are often excluded from organised sport activities, which has been shown to have a detrimental effect on their physical and mental health.
Ocean Heroes provides children with autism the opportunity to take part in organised sport in a highly supported and structured environment. There is no equivalent organisation like Ocean Heroes in Australia, and to my knowledge, only one similar organisation in the world (Surfers Healing in the USA). Ocean Heroes combines compassion, skill and professionalism to provide children with a unique opportunity to experience the thrill of catching a wave. Given the hugely successful events conducted to date, as well large numbers of children diagnosed with autism each year, I firmly believe that Ocean Heroes will grow to an important and sustainable organisation that could operate nationwide’.
Andrew is a General Paediatrician with a special interest in Developmental Paediatrics. Andrew currently works in a variety of settings including the public Child Development Services, Joondalup Health Campus Paediatric Department and Glengarry Hospital. He manages many patients with Autism and has had the joy of meeting some of them on the beach for a wave!
Andrew was inspired to become involved with Ocean Heroes following a presentation by founder Luke Hallam at the Neurodevelopmental and Behavioural Paediatric Society of Australia’s annual meeting in 2016 and can see great opportunities for families and their children with Autism to benefit from experiencing the wonder of surfing. Equally, he can see real opportunities for taking a scientific approach to Ocean Heroes and finding ways to measure benefit for children with Autism through research.
Personally Andrew has found Ocean Heroes to be a professionally run organisation, providing a relaxed, fun, normalising atmosphere in which the usual barriers to families with Autism to be washed away, with shared experiences creating new networks and support structures along the way.
Nando Zappavigna C.A. is an advisor and auditor for the charity with over 20 years experience in not for profit organisations. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountant Tax Institute of Australia.