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Changing lives one wave at a time

Our partnership with Waves for Change

Waves for Change (W4C) began in 2009 as a small, informal weekend surf club for a handful of children from Masiphumelele (Cape Town, South Africa). Every weekend co-founders Tim Conibear (from the UK) and Apish Tshetsha (a local Masiphumelele youth leader) would take the children surfing at Muizenberg beach, a historically “whites” only beach with perfect beginner waves. Most of the children have never been in the water but Tim, Apish and the team do more than simply teach surfing.

The charity takes South African children from disadvantaged backgrounds, often township environments, where they experience an average of eight traumatic events each year yet have no access to much needed mental health services, to experience the thrill of surfing, and to feel safe, heard, and connected. The children have often been exposed to gang culture, drug and alcohol abuse and W4C offers respite from the stress caused by the adversity they experience daily through surf therapy. The sessions build on a “positive self” concept by independently mastering difficult new tasks such as surfing and meditation as well as teaching life skills, behaviours and community interaction. At the heart of the programme are young people from the same or similar contexts to the participants, recruited because of their values and commitment to being change-makers in their community.

Vimto has been a proud partner of W4C right from the first formation of that wave 11 years ago. We support the surf therapy mentors by investing in their skills and understanding, and providing the resources such as transport, surf boards, wetsuits, and access to psychologists that allow this inclusive wellbeing service to be delivered through the impactful surf therapy sessions.

WFC now has sites across South Africa, Liberia and Sierra Leone with plans to extend into Kenya, Tanzania and Senegal. 65 coaches reach more than 2,000+ children per week. It is the proud Winner of five major awards, including Laureus Sport for Good 2017.