Gulf Therapy: A Community Board Meeting

It’s no secret that the beach is our favorite playground. It’s fun. Relaxing. Beautiful. But there’s more to the gulf than meets the sky. Studies are proving that spending time in the water is also good for our mental mojo, offering therapeutic benefits to help those fighting depression.

To help others take advantage of this important mental health resource, 30A local Amanda Abbott took her love of the water to the next level–and for a good cause, too.

Amanda Abbott doing what she loves.

Known as the “surfing realtor,” Abbott was born and raised right here on the Emerald Coast. Although she moved around over the years, her roots always brought her back to the Gulf, where she carried on the family tradition of real estate. In addition to real estate, Amanda is on the Florida Panhandle Board for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Noticing the need for mental health awareness, she started an annual event called Paddle for Prevention to expose people to the therapeutic and healing properties of water.

Being a paddle boarder and surfer herself, Abbott wanted to share the simple recipe of saltwater, sun and sand with those seeking mental wellness. So, she rounded up a group, and they paddled their way toward better mental health. Paddling became a path to peace and a way to soothe the soul. After having great success with the program, she realized there was a real need for more regular gatherings.

Check out highlights from the 2018 Paddle for Prevention event:

Paddle for Prevention to Benefit American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

FANTASTIC TURNOUT 🏄‍♀️for yesterday’s 3rd annual “Paddle for Prevention” …. to raise money + awareness for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention … CHECK THIS OUT:

Posted by 30A on Sunday, 10 June 2018

Amanda teamed up Tyler (TK) King of Adventure 30A to create an informal paddling group called Gulf Therapy in 2017. Their goal was simple – provide a platform for locals to get out on the water, learn to paddleboard, connect with others, and combat mental health issues with our most abundant natural resource. The equation is basic and successful. Community connection + saltwater = improved mental health.

Gulf Therapy sessions are free of charge. You can BYOB (bring your own board) or rent a board from Adventure 30A for just $10.

Amanda volunteers her time to lead the sessions on the 1st and 3rd Friday morning (at 7 a.m.) of every month. Meet her and other local paddlers at Western Lake boat launch in Grayton Beach on Hotz Avenue (by Red Bar).

The sessions begin in Western Lake and travel to the gulf via the dune lake outfall. Beginners and seasoned paddlers alike…come paddle, come connect, come sea!

“Whether you are a first time paddler or a seasoned paddler, this group is for you! We work together to provide support and instruction when needed,” Abbott said.

For more info or to book a session, visit Gulf Therapy.

CHRISTY (CHICK) HUGHES is a freelance writer and a respiratory therapist living in South Walton. She and her husband moved to the beach in 2000.  One sunset…and the couple never looked back. Find her at her blog chickhughes.com.

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