In August 2011, following 1 year of development with leading NGO’s, doctors, care givers and community leaders in the community of Masiphumelele, the Isiqalo Foundation launched ‘Waves for Change’.
Originally Waves for Change was designed as a 3-month HIV intervention for vulnerable young adults living in high-risk ocean-side communities, where surfing had never existed. Under the leadership of trained local coaches – all the first surfers from their communities - participants would be signed onto the programme through their local school or clinic and would take part over a period of 12 weeks. Early research indicated the course lead to a significant boost in HIV knowledge with 80% of participants choosing to test for HIV on completion.
By December of 2011, over 90 young adults from Masiphumelele had completed the Waves for Change course. After extensive interviews and focus groups we soon came to realise that the impact of the programme moved far beyond simple HIV education and had opened a vital forum for the participants to address deep rooted emotional issues, from living with the HIV virus, to entering rehab for Tik addiction, to physical abuse and gang membership. Importantly, many participants now saw Waves for Change as a key support forum and didn’t want to leave. They also loved surfing, which provided an easy platform for us to reach them.
At the end of 2011, Waves for Change also saw investment from the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, Vimto, UK Sport, Surfing South Africa and Reef Wetsuits. W4C was also a winner at Beyond Sport 2011. This allowed us to bring more skills training to our local coaches (all previously unemployed young adults), and to expand our programme model to meet the needs of our beneficiaries.
Today Waves for Change has grown into a fully-fledged organization, working with vulnerable young adults across 4 Cape Town Township communities. We target communities where surfing has never existed, where HIV infection is 25%+, youth unemployment is 50%+, and communities where gang crime and high levels of substance abuse have lead to the breakdown of traditional social values.
We remain committed to HIV education, but increasingly we aim to promote pro-social behaviour in young adults living on the fringes of their communities and to create alternative social structures that assist margainalised young adults in accessing quality care and support. We work with schools, NGO's and social workers to target these youth (Age 13-19) and use a holistic, long-term approach to develop the knowledge, values and skill-sets that allow our beneficiaries to overcome the many challenges they face and become valued members of their community.