In the first event of its kind, last Sunday, State Senator Henry Stern, Malibu native, organized a Surf Summit to bring children and teenagers from Malibu and other parts of LA together to experience the joy of surfing. Participants came from the Children’s Lifesaving Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Malibu as well as the West San Gabriel Valley, West Valley and Variety Boys & Girls Clubs.
“When these kids are in the water, it doesn’t matter where they’re from,” Stern said.
“They’re all just kids, surfing. All of LA ought to be able to reach the beach. Today, some of our best lifeguards and surfers helped 100 groms [kids participating in ‘extreme’ sports] from all walks life become legends.” Stern himself even took some of the kids out into the surf on a surfboard.
Two members of the Malibu Boys & Girls Club, Sebastien Quinonez and Casen Plante, turned up to enjoy the day in the water. Plante, himself a member of the MHS surf team, showed Quinonez the ropes while he surfed for the first time and succeeded in standing up on the board.
After a general safety orientation, most of the surf instruction for first-timers was carried out on a one-on-one basis by volunteers with the Malibu Makos Surf Club. Instructor Tyler Allen, who has been surfing for 13 years, said the reason the Makos offered their services for the event was to promote surfing.
“It was awesome; it was really cool seeing how stoked these kids are,” Allen said. “I think a lot of them had never been to the ocean before. We make them comfortable by never putting them in a bad situation in the surf, and by showing them how to fall, stand up, etc.”
Senate President Pro-Tem Kevin de León, who represents Senate District 24 of the downtown LA area, also came out to the event to try his hand at surfing.
“I know first-hand what it’s like to grow up miles from the ocean but not be able to access it,” he told the crowd. De León praised Stern for bringing communities together to surf and tear down walls, allowing the children to experience the beach, beauty and open space.
“What Henry did here was extraordinary — sharing his love and appreciation of the ocean with these children who may become staunch defenders of it,” de Leon said.
On the political front, de Leon confirmed that he and Stern have been working together on state policies.
“Henry and I are moving some of the most progressive policies in the entire world; going for 100 percent clean energy in California and strategies for dealing with the Trump administration,” he said. “We’re doing a pre-emptive strike to save water, endangered species, etc. if Trump tries to eviscerate those measures. We’re being strategic to protect the world’s sixth largest economy (California) and our progressive values.”
The event also drew support from the local community — the Malibu Makos supplied surf equipment and instructors, Vintage Grocers provided snacks and a food discount, the City of Malibu pitched in with extra lifeguards, lunch and swag-bag giveaways for the kids, and the Surfrider Foundation had an information booth.