Surf therapy project set to help children in university town thanks to students

Students from St Andrews University have raised over £20,000 to bring a surf therapy programme to the town to support vulnerable children.

They raised the funds to enable surf therapy charity The Wave Project to start a new programme at the town’s West Sands beach.

Surfing therapy is now used all over the world to support mental and emotional conditions such as anxiety, ptsd and depression.

It works by combing the fun of surfing with a supportive group of trained mentors, who support participants on a 1:1 basis.

The combination of surfing, being in nature and a culture of support has been proven to improve confidence, self-esteem and resilience in young people – key building blocks of good emotional health.

The Wave Project has been leading this work in the UK, starting in Cornwall over 10 years ago and expanding throughout the country.

However this will be the first time that a university has actively fundraised to start a new surf therapy project to support local children.

Wave Project founder Joe Taylor, himself a former student at St Andrews, said; the new programme was a fantastic partnership between ‘town and gown’.

He said: “It is wonderful that students at St Andrews have been so successful in fundraising for this new surf therapy programme, which is needed more than ever before due to the pandemic.

“As a St Andrews graduate myself, I am particularly proud that the town will now have a functioning surf therapy programme, which will enable students to help local children. “

The Wave Project aims to run a series of pilot courses at St Andrews this spring with a view to establishing a full surf therapy programme, in partnership with the university.

Stephen Stewart, the university’s Director of Sport, said: “It is very pleasing to see the hugely successful fundraising efforts of our students supporting The Wave Project charity to launch a new programme for the local community in St Andrews.

“At Saints Sport we are passionate about increasing levels of participation in sport and physical activity to improve the quality of life at all levels across our whole community.

“We encourage and support our sports clubs and students to take part in volunteering projects and seek to instil a commitment to social responsibility within Saints Sport culture.

“The Wave Project was setup by a St Andrews graduate, and it is great to see current students continuing to support the initiative through a project that will provide opportunities for volunteers to help local young people suffering with mental health issues.

“We hope this is the start of a more sustainable and long-term association between Saints Sport, The Wave Project and other water-based organisations and future initiatives in St Andrews.”

The Wave Project charity began life on the beaches of Cornwall ten years ago working with young people who were at risk of isolation.

The process of learning to surf proved a great leveller for young people from all walks of life, building young people’s confidence, self-esteem and resilience through inclusion and positive reinforcement.

Since 2010 the charity has grown into all corners of the UK working with over 4,000 young people.