The mission of Fall River-based Gnome Surf is simple: to elevate, encourage and inspire children and adults of all ages, to create smiles and heal through surfing, art and yoga.

According to founder Christopher Antao, this is done through one-on-one surf lessons, surf camps, art events and other various activities such as building sandcastles and more.

“We use a hands-on approach designed to increase confidence needed to overcome obstacles one may face in everyday life,” Antao said. “We seek to instill a positive thinking mindset in our clients, to believe whole-heartedly they can do good and dream big.”

This past season, in its fourth season, Gnome Surf held nine camps and gave one-on-one lessons to over 40 children, especially those with autism.

“Some are on the spectrum some are not,” Antao said. “It’s for all kids and all-inclusive. We have touched the lives of over 120 families this summer.”

When Antao was a wrestling coach, he met a young boy named Joseph Grinvalsky. Joseph was struggling as a high-functioning autistic boy.

“We worked together, and he inspired me,” Antao said. “He won 75 matches, was a three-time Big 3 All-Star, and was the first from his family to get accepted to a four-year college.”

From there, Antao moved on to teaching autistic children how to surf.

“I wanted a sport that could appeal to more children with a more positive vibe, so being a surfer, it was natural,” he said.

Now, Gnome Surf is partnering with other nonprofits such as Sophie’s Promise and Community Autism Resources to bring these camps to children on the autism spectrum free of charge. They’ve seen surfers visit the SouthCoast from north of Boston, Vermont and New York, and Antao says the program has been attracting attention from families as far away as Canada.

“Our goal is to open a tree house resort in Costa Rica, a wholistic resort, within the next five to 10 years,” Antao said.

To find out more about Gnome Surfing, visit their Facebook page.

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