A person high fiving another person in the sea sat on a surfboard

Blog - How finding balance in the water helps to find balance in life - The Wave Project Summer Sessions

How finding balance in the water helps to find balance in life - The Wave Project Summer Sessions

7 minute read

1 in 5 children in the UK struggle with their social, emotional, or mental health.

The Wave Project is determined to change that. Their vision is powerful: ‘No child should suffer because they can’t get the help they need.’

Supporting young people

In May 2023, the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CAMHS) hit the highest number on record of young people undergoing treatment or waiting to start care. That’s the equivalent of filling Wembley Stadium, not once, not twice, but FIVE times over.

Impactful figures like these emphasise the importance of supporting young people in the UK, as they require support more now than ever.

The Wave Project is a revolutionary non-profit organisation that has worked tirelessly for over a decade to support young people’s mental health by helping them to connect to the ocean through surfing.

Since its beginning, The Wave Project has been committed to documenting and reviewing the progression and development of the young people who join. Surf Therapy has proven to have an incredible impact on participants' well-being and is pivotal to the lives of the young people who are referred and their families. The impact of Surf Therapy is now NHS-recognised and a ‘prescribed mental health intervention.’

A group from The Wave Project stood in a circle holding hands

Who is the Wave Project

The Wave Project is a children's mental health charity that provides Surf Therapy and other nature-based interventions to young people. Surf Therapy is a six-week course of surf lessons where young people are paired up on a 1:1 basis with The Wave Project's trained volunteer Surf Mentors and lead by qualified surf instructors.

The peer mentorship helps to build a sense of community, trust, and belonging for young people, and combined with the physical and mental health benefits of the sea and learning a new skill of surfing, the courses aim to boost confidence, self-esteem, resilience, and a sense of community. The programmes are so effective that some referral partners have been referring young people in need of support to the organisation for over 13 years.

Supporting The Wave Project

A significant event for The Wave Project each year, is their Summer Surf Sessions. This is the only free surfing event of its kind in the UK, designed for children and young adults with disabilities and mental health needs to build their confidence in the ocean.

We were so proud to support the Summer Surf Sessions in 2023 and support Surf Therapy courses at The Wave Project's North Devon Project. For 2024, we are delighted to be again supporting The Wave Project's Surf Therapy courses in London and Devon.

We are also supporting this incredible charity with a Limited Edition Wave Project dryrobe® Advance - with 100% of the profits supporting the incredible work that the charity does.

The Wave Project’s North Devon Project Coordinator, Jasmine Bennett, shares the journeys of three of the many young people who participated in Surf Therapy last year.

The young people featured, along with many others, have had their lives transformed due to The Wave Project's incredible work.

We strongly support The Wave Project because of its long-standing commitment to helping more people enjoy the sea, which we highly value with our Warmth Project work. We’d like to say a big thank you to Jasmine for sharing the below testimonies and to the whole Wave Project team for their invaluable contribution to the lives of young people.

‘It is thanks to the support from our partner dryrobe® that young people like those described here were able to access the life-changing support of a six-week Surf Therapy course run by The Wave Project.’

The Wave Project sat on surfboards in a circle in the sea with their arms up in the air

Journey 1: A Fresh Start

This young person was referred by their school. His family moved to the coast three years ago.

The young person had experienced several adverse childhood experiences (“ACEs”), and the family came to the area for a change of scenery and a fresh start.

This young person is Autistic and was really struggling in school. He had been referred to the NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (“CAMHS”) and was struggling with peer relationships, displaying some challenging behaviour, and was struggling more and more to leave his room or be away from his phone.

We were concerned about whether he would be able to make it to the sessions at all, and if he did, how he would engage. But despite lots of anxiety about the sessions, he made it every week.

He had a brilliant relationship with his Surf Mentor, even letting a few shy smiles slip out during some of the sessions, especially after a good wave. He managed to get to his feet on the first session, managed challenging conditions and big waves on week four and by week six was confident at getting his wetsuit on and even catching some longer rides.

His parent was thrilled with his progress and felt really supported and welcome at The Wave Project.

Journey 2: Skilled Support

This young person was referred by Devon County Council’s Disabled Children’s service.

He has a visual impairment caused by brain injury, meaning that he needs physical support to navigate his surroundings and support his mobility.

This young person has developmental delay, so his comprehension is a bit different from many of his peers of the same age. He also has some communication challenges but is an excellent learner. He had tried surfing before with a friend, but a place on our Surf Therapy course meant that he could have six consecutive weeks of lessons with a highly skilled team to support him.

With a limited sense of risk and how to keep himself safe in an unpredictable environment we supported this young person with two Surf Mentors during the course, and our brilliant instructors at Westward Ho! would often surf alongside him. With lots of practice and some physical support too, we were thrilled (as was he!) to see this young person making it to their feet during our sessions. He is now a member of our follow-on service, Surf Club, and we look forward to having him at many more sessions this season.

Journey 3: Buzzing After Every Session

This young person has Autism and ADHD and was referred by a Community Family Trust. Her parents had separated recently, and things had been unsettled at home.

Despite managing all of primary school in mainstream education, she is best suited to specialist education, and the masking during the daytime was counteracted by violent outbursts at home.

This young person loves the water and is a really active young person. Her parent recognises that being in the water is really helpful for her to regulate her nervous system and manage her emotions.

This young person did brilliantly at our sessions, forming a great relationship with the Surf Mentors who worked with her and being really receptive to learning from our Surf Instructors.

She was able to learn tricks and work on more advanced skills after springing to her feet during the first session, and she seemed to be buzzing after every session. This person is now a member of our Surf Club, and we really look forward to seeing her surfing progress even further.

If these stories have inspired you to support The Wave Project's amazing work, please visit waveproject.co.uk to discover how you can get involved and help more young people.

The Wave Project stood on the beach with their surfboards behind them and hands in the air


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