Waves for Change is a surf therapy program that brings together young people from diverse background who are at risk, based on the environment in which they find themselves. At Waves for Change we provide participants with a safe space and consistent caring adults to allow them to practice positive behaviors and build healthy relationships with both their peers and parents. Waves for Change was registered in South Africa in 2011, and extended to Liberia, Harper in 2016.
Consistent adults being present positively at all times in the life and space of a child helps him or her feel supported and protected, as well as safe. At Waves for Change, we provide a program that is fun and inclusive, while also being psychologically and physically safe. We provide a space within which children learn and master new skills and healthy, positive behaviors. Mentors at Waves for Change model or demonstrate a behavior, new skill, or how to solve a problem and then give the kids an opportunity to attempt and practice, offering help when it is needed.
Waves for Change has a curriculum made up of nine sessions, split into three phases, running across nineteen weeks.
Phase One: building healthy relationships by mastering trust and empathy.
Lessons: Immersion, Water Skills, Pair Floating, and Pair Surfing
Phase Two: developing skills to cope with stress by mastering deep breathing, meditation, and a deeper understanding of one’s strengths.
Lessons: Take-5 check-in, Take-5 Meditation, Take-5 Power Hand, and Take-5 Power Object
Phase Three: participants prepare to be independent by identifying how and where they will use these skills in their day to day life.
Lesson: My Mantra / I will
Each Waves for Change session is run using a teachable moment – a structured exercise that uses a game or play to help the children experience an emotion. They practice behaviors that help them experience positive emotions and control negative emotions they may experience every day.
Since Waves for Change started in Harper we have graduated seventy kids from our Surf Therapy program, who are now in the Waves for Change Surf Club. The purpose of the Surf Club is to keep them engaged in the program, giving them a sense of belonging, competition among themselves and also giving them the opportunity to practice leadership skills and introduce them to other opportunities when available. This group have their own leadership monitor and are mentored and supervised by Christopher D. Swen.
Presently we have eighty participants in the regular program and over forty in the surf club. The surf club just had their 6th competition on the sixteenth of March 2019. The competition brought together forty youth, six females and thirty-four males. Participants were divided into three groups according to their jersey color which are red, white and blue.
The major rule at Waves for Change and of the competition is our Banana’s culture – RESPECT, PROTECT AND COMMUNICATE! Serving as judges for the competition were, Stephanie Chang (PIH), A. Wa-Nyebo Neufville, (Harper District Youth President) and Gydude Moore (representing Standford Sieh – the coordinator for Youth and Sports in Maryland County). Winners of the competition were 3rd place: William Scott, 2nd place Morris Sonpon and Joseph Freeman winning the 1st prize and defending his title.
A brief description of the lessons completed:
Immersion: they learn to build healthy relationships by mastering trust and empathy. They hold each other hands for protection and friendship, as they walk into the water, communicating with each other about how they feel and respecting one another feelings so as not to push anyone out of their comfort zone. They learned to trust themselves and trust others.
Water Safety: we teach them skills to keep them safe in the water while building healthy relationship with one another. They also learn to trust. Pair Floating, and Pair Surfing: they practiced building healthy relationship by communicating, respecting, protecting, and appreciating each other’s efforts, while teaching each other how to float and surf under the supervision of the coaches. They also demonstrate the idea and culture of being BANANAS (communicate, protect, respect and trust) by sharing a surf board and teaching one another how to surf and celebrating each other’s good waves.
Some of the Surf Club members served as Trainee/Junior Coaches last year and received stipends while others are currently practicing as Junior Coaches. Waves for Change offers youth in Surf Club the potential opportunity to grow into the positions of Surf Coaches and Mentors in the future.
Currently, we are in the third month of the 2019 program and we are teaching the kids how to check in with their feelings, recognize their feelings and know if they can cope. They learn to control emotions and ask for help. So far, we have covered immersion, water safety/skills, pair floating, pair surfing and we are now on the take-5 and check in.
Waves for Change runs sessions Monday to Thursday for the regular program and Fridays and Saturdays for the surf club.