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Waves for change

Changing lives, one wave at a time.

Waves for Change (W4C) provides a child-friendly mental health service to vulnerable and differently abled young people living in unstable communities. Through connections to safe spaces, caring mentors, and a 12-month weekly Surf Therapy curriculum, W4C gives children the skills to cope with stress, regulate behavior, build healing relationships, and make positive life choices.

The young people W4C works with are exposed to repeated trauma, and adversity, who lack supportive adults, feel negative about themselves, and adopt challenging behavior patterns, reducing their life chances. W4C Surf Therapy combines evidence-based mind and body therapy with the rush of surfing to improve mental, physical, and social health outcomes.

W4C supports, trains, and resources community-based mentors to lead the Surf Therapy programmes. Across six sites in South Africa and Liberia, W4C reaches more than 1,000 young people every week. Mentors are given two-year coaching contracts, ensuring consistent programme delivery whilst also improving local childcare infrastructure and job readiness of mentors, allowing them to find job opportunities post training.

Participants receive 2 hours of surfing and mentoring from their coaches per week as well as a home cooked meals and transportation.  Coaches conduct school visits, teacher trainings, home visits, and parent workshops to more effectively provide direct support to the children. 97% of W4C participants report increased happiness, 90% improved school engagement, and 93% felt more confident.

“Waves for Change taught me to be independent and have a hope for tomorrow. If I fall I know that I can rise again. Life is full of challenges, but I should not give up!” – W4C Participant

W4C, and founder Tim Conibear, have won a number of awards including the Jack Cheetham Memorial Award in 2015, the Inyathelo Philanthropy Award in 2016, and the Laureus Sport for Good Award last year (2017). W4C was seen in an ABC documentary, ‘Freedom Riders’, and will be featured in a movie this year with Vans and Positive Vibe Warriors.