LITTLE COMPTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A sensory surf shop in Little Compton is making waves.
Owner Christopher Antao says ‘Gnome Surf Shop’ is the first sensory surf shop in the entire world. Along with owning the shop, he runs a non-profit surf therapy organization where in the past five years he’s taught 2,000 kids how to surf. For a young athlete from Fall River, Antao is making her dreams come true one wave at a time.
Kendra Robertson is a 12-year-old from Fall River who wants to become a surf instructor.
“It’s really great — I love it so much I always wanted to surf,” Robertson said.
But surfing almost didn’t happen for Kendra.
“Kendra is definitely a miracle baby,” Jeannie Robertson, Kendra’s adopted mother said. “They didn’t think she was going to survive. When she was born, she looked like a fetus. They didn’t think she was gonna beat the odds.”
Kendra was born premature, at 26 weeks. She weighed just 1.5 pounds.
She spent her first six months of life in the NICU and had open heart surgery. Kendra ended up in DCF custody and was adopted at three-years-old. While her parents say she still has some learning disabilities, Kendra beat the odds and with the help of surf therapy — she’s catching every wave she can!
“We were told in Boston that she may never walk…and now there’s no stopping her,” Robertson said.
Antao says research shows over 90 percent of his athletes feel happier and more self confident.
“To see them come nervous and not believing in themselves, not thinking they can do something like this and then they surprise themselves,” Antao says. “That first wave they take in and when they turn around and look at me and have smiles ear to ear that’s it that’s the feeling you know you made an impact.”
That impact, leaving a mark on all his surfers who are making the ocean their home, one wave at a time.