The W4C innovative surf therapy programme was a recipient of the ViiV Positive Action Children’s Fund due to its close alignment with linkage to care between local community structures and health services.
The programme has been developed by young people, for young people, fusing surfing with evidence-based mind/body therapy to provide a child-friendly, stigma-free mental-health service, and respite from negative thoughts and emotions, for under-served children and young people.
The programme centres around:
- Surf therapy sessions (three hours weekly) and a coping skills curriculum, tailored to age and specific needs e.g. specialist autism support to build mental resilience and wellbeing
- Providing safe places - after five months students graduate and have access to surf clubs including after-school care, surfing sessions and a safe place to talk and access services
- Community capacity building - surf mentors are recruited from the community and trained to build resilience in young people. Extra remote safeguarding training for COVID-19 is in place.
- Establishing referral systems with authorities, schools and other community-based organisations.
- Advocacy with parents – tackling gender stereotypes at home (e.g. full responsibility for household chores) to increase girls’ participation in surf schools with an aim of reaching a equal split of girls and boys
- Digital engagement of the community in response to COVID-19
- Parent WhatsApp groups with online courses, safeguarding help and support