TEAM Surf: Never Stop Dreaming


In the most challenging of times, most people seek everywhere for advice and guidance.

“Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.” – L. Hughes

This is most true for families who have been blessed with a special child. A family being informed that their child has a special condition can be considered one of the most challenging events in life.

No one can really prepare for having a special child.

Normally when families realize a child is on the way, they dream big. Families imagine all possible kinds of accomplishments that the child will achieve in the future.

Thus it is heartbreaking for any family to hear that their child has a special condition. When families understand that something is unusual, the pile of dreams suddenly collapses.

Families ask several questions but most commonly, “What will happen to us?”

TEAM Surf Special Child Participant (A family being informed that their child has a special condition often leads to questioning and worrying about the future. Photo by: Edward Byron M. Yap)

Families start seeking answers from every possible source but with minimal success. Most of these families fail to recognize that the answer they are looking for can be found from the unlikeliest of sources, their own special child.

Making families understand the fact that a special child has the answers is what TEAM Surf is all about.

TEAM Surf is a one-day yearly event held in La Union, Philippines which allows special children along with their parents to experience the joy of surfing with the purpose of making families dream again.

TEAM Surf believes that if a special child can do something as hard as surfing then they have the ability to achieve other great accomplishments in life.

TEAM Surf Special Child Participant (Surfing is one of the hardest sports and a special child doing it shows they have the ability to accomplish things in life.)

More than fun and excitement, TEAM Surf enables special children to really communicate with their loved ones. Due to their condition, special children usually are not able to express themselves using normal language. By using surfing as the medium of communication, these special children are able to convey the message to their loved ones that despite their condition they are happy and there is no need to worry about the future.

TEAM Surf Special Child Smiling (Surfing, when used as the medium of communication, allows a special child to convey strong message to loved ones. Photo by: Edward Byron M. Yap)

Not only is TEAM Surf therapeutic to the special children but it also does wonders for the family as a whole. It is clear that TEAM Surf’s ability to strengthen family bond goes beyond the one-day event.

TEAM Surf Family Participants (TEAM Surf strengthens the family bond beyond the one-day surfing event. Photo by: Edward Byron M. Yap)

Teacher Melai Karaan, together with other therapists and teachers at SJL TEAM Learning Center and with support from her surfer friends from La Union Surf Club (LUSC), started TEAM Surf in 2011 as a way to give back. It was on her birthday that she decided to share the joy of surfing to the kids who have brought her purpose in life.

TEAM Surf Founder Melai Karaan (Teacher Melai started TEAM Surf in 2011 during her birthday as a way to give back to the special kids who gave her so much in life.)

Teacher Melai recalls:

“We started the TEAM Surf program from scratch. During those early days we had to source everything ingeniously ourselves. The kids surfed wearing only their underwear. We didn’t even have the funds to pay local surfing instructors. Fortunately, the local surfing instructors agreed to teach for free, telling us that it was for the kids anyways and experiencing happiness with the kids was enough payment.”

“Now it’s great to see how far the program has gone. Through the years, support has improved and we have slowly been able to collect essential equipment such as rash guards and life vests. What is most satisfying is that we have no shortage of volunteers willing to lend a hand.”

TEAM Surf 2015 (TEAM Surf 2015 volunteers)

More than the certificates and goodies, TEAM Surf participants are rewarded with additional strength and courage to tackle future challenges related to the conditions of these special children.

Seeing a special child being able to courageously stand in a surfboard conquering waves gives a strong message to everyone that all of life’s challenges can be overcome.

TEAM Surf Awarding (More than certificates and goodies, TEAM Surf participants receive strength to tackle future challenges. Photo by: Edward Byron M. Yap)

These children are truly special, giving everyone hope that everything in life is conquerable.

TEAM Surf invites everyone to come to this yearly event and celebrate the message that DREAMING AND BELIEVING SHOULD NEVER STOP.

Special Child Dreaming (No matter what life throws, never lose the ability to dream. Photo by: Edward Byron M. Yap)

(For TEAM Surf details, email Teacher Melai Karaan at or Teacher Melai is also the owner of Nani Wahini Shop in La Union, Philippines)


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