Surf therapy - have you heard of it? Whether chatted about informally amongst seasoned surfers, or discussed with data and case studies in a board room, it's becoming more and more apparent that time in the water is good for us.
Newquay-based charity The Wave Project knows this well and provides life-enhancing surf sessions for young people who have experienced difficulties and could benefit from time in the sea. Following an initial NHS pilot scheme, the charity was formed in 2011 and has since grown across the UK and Ireland providing sessions to over 3000 children and young adults.
This summer, I volunteered to help out at the West Cornwall Wave Project sessions hosted at Gwithian Academy of Surfing, having briefly got involved with the charity during my time at uni in Exeter.
Signing up for a six-week 'surf therapy' course, I would be paired with a young person for the duration and support them as they build their confidence in the water amongst a group of peers, led by professional surf instructors.
The popularity of volunteering for the project means that many children and teenagers are able to have 1-2-1 support which is an enormous help for helping them to feel safe and secure in the water - and ready to start having fun! The impact reports and testimonials from young people and their families are incredible to read, and as a volunteer I got so much out of the sessions as well.
For those two hours a week my focus was entirely outside of myself, the priority being the wellbeing of the young person I was working with. As well as smiling, comforting, and sharing in their successes, it was also a great opportunity for me to connect with other volunteers who are equally passionate about what time in the water can do for us.
If you're interested in volunteering or supporting the charity, loads of information can be found on their website: www.waveproject.co.uk/get-involved/become-a-volunteer/
Cornwall sessions run at Bude, Polzeath, Newquay, Gwithian and St Ives from April to October, pausing for the busy summer holidays. You don't need to be an expert surfer to volunteer, but would need to be confident in the water and will receive a DBS check and in-house training.
I can't recommend it enough!
*All images here are from the WP website rather than my own due to safeguarding.