The power of surf

Corona Open stop for W4C road show

AS PART of the Waves for Change (W4C) road show, the East London team, along with partners, visited the coastal towns of Port Elizabeth and Jeffreys Bay.

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Among the group were founding director and CEO of the W4C project Tim Conibear.

The children surfed some of the world’s best waves with pro surfers from around the globe at the 2017 Corona Open J-Bay, a World Surf League (WSL) event in Jeffreys Bay.

The children met the likes of WSL Championship tour surfer Adrian Buchan, from Australia and South African professional big wave surfer Frank Solomon, to name but a few.

“This idea of surf therapy is super progressive and it’s something I think we, as professional surfers should all stand behind,” said Buchan.

Starting in East London last week, the W4C road show took off with a ceremonious surf lesson at Orient Beach and continued to inspire youths over three days.

The W4C East London team comprises five coaches, site manager JD van der Walt and more than 30 children from Parkside and Duncan Village.

The programme provides access to safe spaces, caring mentors and provision of weekly “surf therapy” sessions for at-risk youth in unstable communities.

The East London kick-off saw a paired surfing exercise being taught, and then re- peated by the children taking to the waves.

Respecting, protecting and communicating with your partner were key aspects in the paired exercise, giving attendees a taste of the project’s therapeutic benefits.

Parkside benefits from W4C ‘surf therapy’ and support

With sites in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London, the W4C project is based in ocean-side communities experiencing high levels of violence and a lack of resources.

Starting out eight years ago, W4C is now one of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation’s most successful projects in South Africa.

Conibear started a small surfing club in the Masiphumelele Township and soon it grew to what W4C is today – South Africa’s largest surf therapy programme.

The project was awarded the Laureus Foundation Award recently, receiving global recognition for its work in vulnerable communities.

Having launched a site at Harper Beach, Liberia this year, W4C is also aiming to extend into the rest of Africa.

“It feels surreal standing here today. When I started out teaching a few kids how to surf in Muizenberg, I had no idea it would come to this,” said Conibear.

“I’ve seen time and time again how the power of surf can change lives. It has helped so many kids deal with internal issues in a positive and constructive way.”



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