Waves for Change – Surf Therapy for Violent Communities
Waves for Change started organically at Muizenberg beach in Cape Town, South Africa.
On occasional weekends and weekdays between 2010 and 2011, Tim Conibear and Elizabeth Benninger – both foreign nationals studying and working in South Africa – began running informal surfing sessions for young people from the Masiphumelele and Lavender Hill communities.
With the assistance of young South Africans, and W4C co-founders, Apish Tshetsha and Bongani Ndlovu, a programme began to develop that identified and met a a gap in the provision of primary social care and support to vulnerable young adults. It was found many young South African faced daily exclusion due to behavioural or learning difficulties, often arising from continued exposure to violence or acute emotional / psychological stress (trauma).
Surfing was found to offer genuine therapeutic benefits that helped young adults from some of Cape Town’s most unstable communities develop basic coping skills and emotional stability. Where extra social support was needed, locally trained W4C coaches were able to offer the necessary community based care that was deemed to be lacking or hard to access due to oversubscribed and under-resourced existing services.
Today, the W4C programme has developed an award winning curriculum that fuses elements of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Humanistic Therapy and Surfing to promote the wellbeing and stability of young people who have been adversely effected by the unstable surrounds of their community. Thanks to the ongoing support of our founding partners – including the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, Vimto and the City of Cape Town Sport and Recreation Department amongst others – the W4C programme has been able to increase both the reach of its programming and the range of services beneficiaries are able to access: from entry level surf therapy all the way through to domestic support and an accredited social worker service.
Waves for Change is committed to strengthening the all-round community based support vulnerable young people are able to access. Surfing is as much a part of Waves for Change as the organisations’ commitment to training quality child and youth care workers who can offer community based care once the surfing day is done, or our work advocating for fair and equal inclusion of children who face daily exclusion.
At the heart of Waves for Change lies a belief that a happy individual is a successful individual. There are many aspects of life that impact our ability to feel happy, or secure. We believe the promotion of emotional wellbeing and mental health is vital if we are to be stable, secure and successful in life.
We believe that one way – perhaps the best way – to promote mental wellbeing is to ride waves with friends.