Surf Therapy Helps Harley Overcome Anxiety

For 10-year-old Harley and his family, the prospect of him participating in a 6-week surf therapy course seemed daunting. Harley has ADHD, autism, and severe anxiety which made group activities and new environments extremely challenging. His parents were skeptical that such a short programme could make an impact.

But our dedicated project team and their compassionate, individualised approach unlocked something incredibly special in Harley. What started with trepidation on that first day at St. Ives quickly turned into an amazing transformation.

“We could see Harley beginning to relax. The encouragement and praise [the team] gave Harley was just so amazing,” shared Harley’s mother. By the end of that first session, Harley had his feet in the ocean – an unimaginable milestone for this child who typically refused to leave home.

Week after week, the strides Harley made were “the most magical thing we have seen in a very long time,” according to his mother. Volunteers like Zack and Claire formed an instant bond with Harley, meeting him at his comfort level and gently coaxing him into the immersive therapy of surfing.

The family watched in awe as Harley’s smile radiated more brightly than they’d seen in years. “To go from week 1 to week 6, the results were insane,” said his mother. Harley progressed from playing in the sand to standing up on his surfboard – an extraordinary triumph.

“Surf therapy is the only therapy that Harley has actually agreed to…He must have really felt safe with the team,” Harley’s mother explained. “We will honestly never be able to thank you all enough for doing this for us.”

“We have gone from not being able to get Harley to leave the house to then completing 6 weeks of therapy and a new-found love for surfing,” marveled his mother. “Honestly, I would recommend this to everyone and say that it 100% does work.”