Changing young lives through surfing

Local teenager Sam* has always found comfort visiting the beach. Being amongst the salty air of the beach, sand beneath her toes and the cool water washing over her feet, this is her happy place.

It also provides her with respite from a difficult home life.

Currently, her home situation is unpredictable. Her mother is experiencing significant medical issues that has resulted in hospitalisation. Finding it difficult to focus on school with so many things on her mind, Sam was starting to feel extremely lonely and anxious.

One in four young people will experience a mental health challenge, requiring support from mental health services (Mission Australia) and it was Sam’s support worker who referred her to Ocean Mind.

Ocean Mind is an organisation that provides therapeutic surf programs for young people who are experiencing mental health issues, social isolation and disability.

Over a six-week program, young people aged 8-18 years of age are matched with a local mentor who not only teaches them to surf but more importantly, develops supportive relationships and creates a safe environment for the young person to reduce anxiety and improve emotional health by growing in confidence, making new friends and setting and achieving goals.

A $30,000 grant from the Give Where You Live Foundation assists Ocean Mind to continue changing young people’s lives through surfing. With thanks to your donations, Ocean Mind were able to provide additional places on the 6-week programs, while also reducing the waiting list for access.

Once completing the 6-week program, Sam couldn’t wait to join the surf clubs and continue to see her new friends and now has the opportunity to mentor another young person. Volunteers at Ocean Mind comment on her growth in confidence and highly infectious laughter.

This is a side of Sam her mother was thrilled to see once again.

Through the Ocean Mind community, Sam has met some of the most beautiful humans, incredible role models and has a place where those people give her a sense of safety, love, confidence and more.

 She may never have found this anywhere else. I have come to love those people, even the ones I have never met. It has been a difficult year for us, for Sam, and I don’t think that inner light would have kept burning within her the same way without you.”

 Even today as Sam paddles out on the water, every stroke taking her closer towards the horizon line, she feels a weight lifted off her shoulders. Her problems can’t follow her into the water. They stay at shore.

*not her real name