Surfing as a form of therapy for young people facing trauma or isolation is coming to Northern Ireland following a £200,000 grant from the National Lottery Community Fund.
Surf therapy charity The Wave Project has received four years of funding to develop its award-winning ‘surf therapy’ programme for young people aged 8 to 18, who are at risk of anxiety or depression.
The charity was awarded the grant following a successful pilot scheme in 2018, which saw 40 young people benefit from a surf therapy course.
Participants were referred by local services to take part in a six week surfing course in Portrush or Benone, in which they received the support of their own personal ‘surf mentor’ – a volunteer surf coach. Sessions were overseen by local surf schools Alive in Portrush and Down The Line in Benone, which provided professional coaches, equipment and changing facilities.
The model proved successful in helping children to feel more confident, positive about their lives and socially engaged with other people.
Project Coordinator Carla Magee said: “It was incredible to see the difference that a short surfing course made to these young people. The support of local volunteers was amazing, and it was their compassion and care for the young people that really made a difference.”
Carla added: “To secure this funding in Northern Ireland is a huge boost for the charity, and the local area. Guaranteeing places for our young people will bring around wonderful changes in the mental wellbeing of young people on the Causeway Coast.”
Funding from the National Lottery means the charity will now be able to support a further 240 young people from the region over the next four years.
Wave Project founder Joe Taylor said: “It’s fantastic news that we’ll be able to continue working with young people in Northern Ireland thanks this funding. The charity is very grateful to everyone who has supported the project in Northern Ireland so far, including local surf schools, volunteers and people from the community. We can’t wait to get in the waves and share the stoke with more young people who need our support.”