Gnome Surf changing kids’ lives one lesson at a time

Local non-profit offers surfs lessons and World's first ever sensory friendly surf shop

NEWPORT COUNTY, RI (WLNE) – Chris Antao says he was nervous, too when he first started surfing.

“It’s my therapy too. These kids are my world and they bring so much joy into my life.”

Antao started giving surf lessons in 2015, and he says that spiraled into what is known today as Gnome Surf.  Established officially in 2019, Gnome Surf is a local non-profit creating happiness, love and acceptance through surf therapy.

“I know how much surfing has helped me with my ADHD,” Antao, who founded Gnome Surf told ABC 6. “I knew this was going to be useful to children.”

Members of the International Surf Therapy Organization, Gnome Surf has worked with over 1200 families to date, and also have now completed 50 surf lessons for local kids.

“Our athletes with autism and down syndrome are some of the most pure, loving, caring (and) kind individuals.”

Gnome Surf also offers the first of it’s kind, sensory free surf shop. The shop is equipped with special sensory lights, some of which are interactive, another way of helping kids feel more comfortable.

“These little lights and tools are beneficial to our athletes who have autism, down syndrome, ADHD or depression or anxiety,” Antao says.

Gnome Surf is also growing.  Antao tells ABC 6 that they’re currently in the process of completing a new tree house project in Costa Rica. It’s a resort for families to rejuvenate, and Antao says it will be completed this winter.

For more information, or if you’d like to volunteer, visit


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