Ocean’s Love Hawaii
Ocean's Love Hawaii is a 501-C3 Non Profit surfing school that provides opportunities for children with Intellectual Disability from Hawaii and Japan to connect through the healing energy of the ocean.
Angela Maki Vernon grew up with her two perfectly healthy older brothers under the care of their mother in Tokyo, Japan. At the early age of five, her brother Takashi abrubtly suffered from a brain aneurysm, leaving him paralyzed on his entire right side of his body. He had lost the control to speak. And the doctors were convinced that he would not live past 20 years old.
After years of Takashi's commitment to live, time in physical therapy and the support of his loving family, he was able to walk with a brace, gained control to speak again and has outlived the doctors prediction of 20 years old. As challenging as it may have been for Maki's brother and family to go through this tragic experience, the community, whether at school, the grocery store, or on the train, did not make it any easier on them.
Angela Maki's perspective of the community shifted as she realized there was a lack of compassion and awareness for children with disabilities and their families. During her third grade year in school, she had developed a burning desire to make a difference for families and children, like her brother, who are in need of support.
Inspired in Waikiki
In 2004, Angela Maki's calling came knocking on her door and she realized that it was time to take action. Her best friend, Tiare Thomas, invited her to volunteer at a surf school for autistic children in Waikiki – an experience that changed her life forever. As a volunteer it was Angela Maki's job to take the children onto the surfboards. At first they seemed very shy and scared, but when they caught a wave, their faces brightened up instantly! She heard them shout, "One more wave! One more wave!". When she witnessed the instant joy, smiles and confidence the ocean brought to their faces, she was convinced- this is what she needed to be doing in Japan!
Ocean’s Love in Japan
One year later, in 2005, Ocean's Love was created, the first surf school in Japan of it's kind. Angela Maki's vision was to share the ALOHA spirit she experienced in Hawaii through the energy of the ocean in Japan with disabled children.
Because of the lack of awareness towards children who are physically and/or mentally challenged in Japan, they do not have proper care. Popular beaches have limited access or none at all, making it nearly impossible for them to be introduced to the ocean.
Although creating Ocean's Love had it's obstacles, including being owned and lead by a woman, taking children into a "dangerous sport," and teaming up with people who would believe in her vision, she continued to build.
Angela Maki eventually teamed up with two other women, Kaoru Suzuki and Abiru Hanae, to turn this vision into reality. Their combined knowledge, skills and desire to make an impact in their community lead them to organizing the first of many surf schools.
The first kids that started coming to our school, have grown up to be young adults after a decade, and we’ve learned recently that they now face new challenges, one of them being finding a place to work. This is exactly what my brother went through last year, going through so many interviews and just getting rejected left and right. These kids sometimes do not even get a chance to try it out. This reality sadden my heart deeply, and made us to move forward!
We are Expanding
In 2017 Ocean's Love expanded to twelve surf school events during the summer season, attracting as many as over 150 volunteers per event. They have held surf schools across Japan including, Chigasaki, Hokkaido, Miyazaki, Irago, Wakayama, Kyotango, Izu and Shimane.
In 2018 Ocean's Love expanded to offer work experiences for children while they are still in junior high school / high school to find what type of work suits them to be happy and it gives opportunities for parents to know what kind of talent their own children have. Also it gives great opportunities for workers to develop deep understanding on how to work with special needs people.
In 2019 Angela Maki is expanding Ocean's Love in Hawaii! Ocean's Love Hawaii will offer surf tours for families with Intellectual Disability children. And also surf lessons to local families with Intellectual Disability children. She believes that by connecting families from Japan and Hawaii to share their experiences, knowledge and love will create a belief in them that they are not alone, and that we are all connected and there are many people who are wanting to support them. Her dream is to have host families in Japan and Hawaii to do exchange programs to learn different cultures and have new experiences. Because she believes giving opportunities for children to have new experiences will create confidence and that confidence will give them courage to challenge new things and to move forward.
What makes Ocean's Love unique and valuable is that we are the only surf school that is focused on hosting and connecting families and their children from both Japan and Hawaii who have Intellectual Disability.
We have instructors who speaks both Japanese and English.
Angela Maki is a professional surfer who has an experience of 13 years of teaching special needs children how to surf.
We make sure safety is our number one priority through hiring qualified and reputable surf instructors.