Glow paddling to give autistic keiki a unique experience

Glow paddling is a new ocean activity that’s literally lighting up the ocean.

When the sun sets to the west of Ala Moana Beach Park, darkness slowly sets in — but only briefly. Darkness is replaced by dancing lights on the ocean’s surface.

“Glow paddle is like regular stand up boarding, so we use stand up boards and we have LED lights underneath the boards that illuminate the ocean floor,” explained Malia Beter of Glow Paddle.

“It’s pretty cool and you see the ocean floor. You see turtles sometimes. It’s very beautiful.”

It creates a moving light that’s impossible to ignore.

“It’s gotten so much attention from the hotel rooms so people come down and ask questions,” Beter said. “It just looks like glow spots in the water.”

Federal firefighter Justin Lee brought the concept of glow paddling to Hawaii. He recently reached out to Creative Connections Foundation, an organization that works with children with special needs.

Director Gaby Toloza says the activity is the perfect gift for a child living with autism. “Water for kids with autism is a very rewarding tool and therapeutic medium for them, so to get to go in the water at night and see what’s happening, it’s like all their favorite things in one place,” she said.

“It can create, I guess for a lack of better word, normal,” she added, “create an experience in a typical environment, enjoying the beaches of Hawaii, getting out in the night time. Things that most kids get to do all the time, these kids often times don’t have these opportunities.”

Glow Paddle has organized a special event for Creative Connections. On Friday, May 30, more than 30 children with autism will get the chance to enjoy Ala Moana Beach Park at night.

The event will start with a beach cleanup and an educational talk about sustainable ocean coastlines followed by a Friday night paddle under the Waikiki fireworks show.

“We do need volunteers, so if anybody can come out that would be great it’s really going to serve you big time to help these kids and be a part of this experience,” Beter said.

If you’d like to volunteer, call Creative Connections Foundation at 348-5056 or click here.

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