The Wave Project launches pilot scheme in Northern Ireland
For the first time, ‘surf therapy’ courses will be made available to young people, free of charge, who are experiencing anxiety, trauma or social isolation in Northern Ireland.
Twenty participants will be referred to the project for a six-week surfing course at Portrush or Benone, starting on 7 October.
They will learn to surf with the help of a volunteer ‘surf mentor’, who becomes a buddy for them throughout the course.
Surf coaching and water safety will be delegated to two local surf schools, Alive Surf School in Portrush and Long Line Surf School in Benone.
Previous surf therapy courses delivered by The Wave Project have found that this approach helps children to feel more self confident, socially connected and less anxious.
Wave Project founder Joe Taylor said: “As a charity we are really looking forward to working with young people in Northern Ireland and helping them to feel more positive about their lives through surfing.
“Our model of combining surfing and mentoring has been independently evaluated by academics and health experts, and shown to be effective in helping young people improve their confidence and self-esteem.
“We hope that it will be as popular with young people in Northern Ireland as it has been elsewhere in the UK.”
The Wave Project currently operates courses at 11 sites across the UK from Cornwall to Scotland.
Participants are referred to the project by professionals working in local health and social services, and courses are delivered free of charge.
Local project coordinator Carla Magee said: “I am really excited about the prospect of seeing The Wave Project come here to Northern Ireland.”
Carla added that organisers are currently on the lookout for volunteers willing to help young people both in the water.
She said: “We are keen to hear from different types of people who would like to support this innovative project – you do not have to be able to surf to take part, as long as you enjoy working with young people.”
The focus of this project will be on reaching young people who for various reasons are at risk of isolation.
Professionals can refer children aged 8 to 18 to the project by clicking the refer button on the top right of this page.