Parkside benefits from W4C ‘surf therapy’ and support

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AWARD-WINNING organisation Waves for Change (W4C) proves that the ocean has magical healing powers.

The organisation uses surfing as therapy to change and heal lives.

Operating in Cape Town and East London alongside beaches, W4C works with local communities, offering support to vulnerable children from impoverished communities.

“Parkside is a low-income community that has little engagement with the ocean. Mercedes Benz identified the potential of setting up a W4C site in the area. The goal is to provide child-friendly mental health service in communities across the globe where mental health services are under-resourced and stigmatised,” W4C communications director Hannah Fowles said.

MOTION OF THE OCEAN: Coach Lukhanyo Xenti engages with kids during a catch-up session for Waves for Change at Orient Beach Picture: SUPPLIED

“At the moment, we run seven sessions per week with children from AW Barnes Primary, Parkside Primary, Khayalethu Special School and a group we call the C for Change from the East London Child Welfare.

“We also have a group from the Sunshine Child and Youth Centre,” Fowles explained.

W4C East London programme manager JD van der Walt, said: “Our programmes are interactive activities focused around key teachable moments and participants connect with caring mentors [W4C coaches] who introduce positive coping skills.

“We have secured the services of a trained psychologist to improve the counselling and personal growth of the coaches individually and the group as a whole.”

The coaches of W4C interact with the children on a personal level, understanding that they were just like them not so long ago. Listening to the stories has led them to state that there is definite improvement in terms of behaviour, interpersonal interaction, respect and having a sense of pride and belonging.

“We have 125 participants in the programme. The positive response from the participants, parents and teachers has been overwhelming. From July onwards, the University of Fort Hare will conduct an impact study on the results of the programme and how it is helping the children acquire improved coping mechanisms to deal with the stress and challenges they face,” Fowles said.

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