Youth in South African townships are regularly exposed to high levels of violence, neglect, poverty and volatile domestic lives. On average, South African youth experience 8 ‘highly traumatic’ events each year (compared to the UK/USA average of 4.8 per lifetime). Compounded over time, these have led to young people in the country developing emotional conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, dysthymia and depression – conditions that compromise their ability to regulate behaviour, engage positively with their peers and achieve at school.
Waves for Change (W4C) uses surfing to engage the hardest- to-reach and most vulnerable youth in their communities and recruit them into programs that address trauma, help them build resilience and support them in their educational and professional aspirations. It trains community members in surfing and in social work and turns disused township beaches into hubs for skills training. W4C was established by Tim Conibear who started offering surf lessons on a voluntary basis to youth from Masiphumelele who were mystified by it. Soon he realized the power that surf had in engaging youth and saw how emotional issues both affected them and prevented them from pursuing their objectives. W4C has now grown beyond its humble beginnings and aside from Masiphumelele, Lavender Hill and Khayelitsha (where between 59-82% of households live below the poverty level) in the Western Cape, has opened branches in the Eastern Cape (Port Elizabeth and East London) as well as Harper in Liberia.
EMpower’s 6th grant to Waves for Change is supporting ongoing work to build the evidentiary base of surf therapy’s impact with a view to securing its inclusion in the curricula of special ability schools and institutions working with young people in trouble with the law. This grant is also supporting the organization to scale up by training trainers, implementing a policy and advocacy strategy, and operationalizing gender and antiracism policies.
Primary Location: Cape Town
Funded Since: 2015
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