The Wave Project: 10 years boosting children's self-esteem

October 2, 2020 | Surfing
The Wave Project: making children happier and more confident since 2010 | Photo: The Wave Project

Ten years ago, The Wave Project started its first surf therapy pilot at Watergate Bay in Newquay, England.

With just a handful of volunteers and one surf school partner, it was the start of surf therapy in the United Kingdom.

The team is proud that ten years on, they have helped over 5,000 children and young people access free surf therapy courses, helping them boost their confidence and self-esteem.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Wave Project, the non-governmental organization made a short film featuring some of its sessions over the years.

"It's been a journey!" says Joe Taylor, founder of The Wave Project.

Joe began the charity with a small grant from the National Health System (NHS), which supported 20 young people on a six-week course.

Over the following decade, 2,457 people volunteered as surf mentors.

The film compiled by producer Michael Durban celebrates the ten years of sharing the stoke, the surf, and the sea with some truly amazing young people.

The Wave Project: the world's first surf therapy course was funded by the National Health System (NHS) | Photo: The Wave Project

Heartfelt Moments

The surf therapy program has expanded to other coastal communities.

The first surf therapy course at The Wave in Bristol has already brought tears to the team's eyes.

This was an email they received from the parent of one of the children on the course.

"My daughter went to school today still buzzing about last night," the email stated.

"When she was first referred, even leaving the house was causing her anxiety and fear. After the sessions, she was a different child. I kid you not - so calm and happy!"

"As a parent/carer, it was a good experience too. I had taken work with me but got so much out of being with other parents and the positive energy of the place that it was an easy decision to not work and be in the moment.

"There were so many young people and volunteers literally changing lives right there and then that it was actually quite emotional to watch, but in a good way!"

The Wave Project: the program helped over 5,000 children and young people access free surf therapy courses | Photo: The Wave Project

Wellbeing Catch-Ups for Young People

The Wave Project's partnership project with Barnardo's has been a huge success, providing "wellbeing catch-up" sessions to children affected by Covid-19.

These short courses combine surfing, beach games, and wellbeing sessions for young people aged 8-18.

Parents of children who are in the program's surf club - or who have taken part in a Wave Project course previously - should contact their local project coordinator to talk about making an internal referral.

"We believe that these sessions will help reduce children's anxiety and build their confidence following an uncertain period for many young people," adds Joe Taylor.

The Wave Project London has been shortlisted for the 2020 Southwark Business Excellence Awards in the Best Charity and Social Enterprise category.

Funded by Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, this project supports 180 children and young people from the borough of Southwark in South London, taking them to the coast in a minibus for their surf therapy course at the weekend.

Project manager Sarah Woods said being shortlisted was a great honor.

"Winning this award would be a recognition of the work of everyone who feeds into The Wave Project in Southwark, from the referrer to participant to volunteers and supporters," concludes Sarah.

The Wave Project is helping to make surf therapy real for children around the UK. May it continue and grow for many years to come.

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