In September and October this year North Devon area of the national children’s mental health charity The Wave Project partnered with Westward Waves Surf School to deliver a six week Surf Therapy Course at Westward Ho!, Bideford. Nine young people took to the water for the first session on Saturday 11thSeptember, and continued to attend throughout the course.
The Wave Project began in Cornwall just over 10 years ago, and first came to North Devon in 2013. Working with partner Surf School Surf South West in Croyde, the project has flourished over the last eight years.
The Wave Project supports young people who have been referred to them for a range of different reasons including autism diagnosis, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, bullying and social isolation, challenging family life, anxiety and mental health struggles.
Through surfing, the Wave Project creates a safe space for young people to build resilience, learn new skills, make new friends, feel part of the surfing community and connect to nature. The Wave Project North Devon aspires to make everyone to feel welcome and valued – inclusivity is at the heart of everything they do.
The Wave Project works with referrers such as schools, social workers and GP’s to pinpoint which young people need support and get it to them as soon as possible. The local Wave Project coordinator then works with parents/carers and families to understand the needs of each child, and work out how they can best be supported during a session to access the calming and therapeutic benefits of spending time in the ocean.
The Wave Project also works with volunteer surf mentors, whom undertake an online training, and a sea training session (and of course a DBS check). Once trained, volunteers can attend as much or as little as they like – helping the young people in the water on a 1:1 basis within a group setting. Helping to choose good waves for their young ‘surf buddy’, lending a hand after a wipeout and celebrating great rides – the role of a surf mentor can be really rewarding.