Getting put through the paces at 'Surf Therapy' at the West Strand in Portrush
A PROJECT that uses surfing as a means of improving children’s mental health is on the lookout for some much needed funds.
The Wave Project is a charity that runs ‘surf therapy’ courses free of charge for young people who are experiencing anxiety, trauma or social isolation.
For the first time ever in Northern Ireland, these courses were started early last month in Portrush and Benone and have been a massive success so far.
Participants have learned to surf with the help of a volunteer ‘surf mentor,’ who becomes a buddy for them throughout the course which ends in two weeks time. The focus of the current project is to reach out to young people who, for various reasons, are at risk of isolation.Surf coaching and water safety has been delegated to two local surf schools - Alive Surf School in Portrush and Long Line Surf School in Benone.
Previous surf therapy courses delivered by The Wave Project have found that this approach helps children to feel more confident, socially connect and positive about themselves.
Wave Project founder Joe Taylor said: “Our model of combining surfing and mentoring has been independently evaluated by academics and health experts and shown to be effective in helping young people improve their confidence and self-esteem.
“We hope that it will be as popular with young people in Northern Ireland as it has been elsewhere in the UK.”
The Wave Project currently operates courses at 11 sites across the UK from Cornwall to Scotland.
Participants are referred to the project by professionals working in local health and social services and courses are delivered free of charge.
Through the Aviva Community Fund, the charity is looking for the public to help them secure £25,000 worth of funds.
*For the full story see this week's Ballymoney Chronicle.