Rep. Gabbard Receives ‘Ocean of Possibilities Award’
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s efforts to help wounded warriors and others with disabilities access the transformative and healing qualities of the ocean, have earned her the Ocean of Possibilities Award, given by AccesSurf in a ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2018, at the Natsunoya Tea House in Honolulu.
For over a decade, AccesSurf has worked to empower people with mobility impairments by providing adaptive surfing and therapeutic educational programs on water recreation, and enriched lives by helping families access the beach and ocean in a barrier-free environment.
“We are honoring Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard this year because as a water woman herself, she knows the healing power of the ocean and the importance it plays in people’s lives,” said Cara Short, executive director of AccesSurf. “For many years Tulsi has supported AccesSurf programs. She is also a strong advocate for the environment, working hard on legislation to protect our coral reefs and end our addiction to fossil fuels.”
AccesSurf’s programs include Wounded Warrior Days at the Beach, and the Nā Koa Wounded Warrior Canoe Regatta for those with service-related injuries, both programs in which Rep. Gabbard has supported and participated in the past. The organization also provides technical assistance to government agencies and other organizations to improve ocean accessibility, and has been instrumental in the international growth of adaptive surfing.
“My first stop when I get off the plane back in Hawai‘i is almost always a quick dip in the ocean. Surfing is a centering, transformative experience that refreshes, inspires, and motivates in the best possible way,” said Rep. Gabbard. “Whether it’s on a surfboard, swimming, or in a canoe, the ocean’s healing power transcends just physical fitness and wellbeing. Its’ healing, therapeutic, and transformative qualities have an incredible impact on so many. I’m proud to support AccesSurf and their service to help every person experience the ocean, regardless of their physical limitations.”
Since being elected to Congress in 2012, Rep. Gabbard has been a champion for veterans and wounded warriors. The first piece of legislation she introduced and passed in the U.S. House in 2013 was the Helping Heroes Fly Act, which improved airport security screening processes for wounded and severely disabled service members and veterans. The Congresswoman has also introduced and passed legislation to address healthcare for veterans, honoring Filipino veterans who served in World War II and provide for veterans exposed to open burn pits in combat zones.