Sharing the power of water and waves with more people makes us happy. We know that we feel great, physically and particularly mentally, when we are in blue spaces – but these spaces don’t always feel like a place for everyone. There are barriers to some people being able to experience the benefits of being in the water, be that cultural, physical, psychological or financial. Looking at ways to remove these barriers is at the heart of our impact work.
This summer we created, funded and launched a pilot programme to help vulnerable young people visit us over the school holidays. Summer of Waves was a holiday club for young people between the ages of 11 and 16, living locally, in challenging circumstances, who wouldn't normally have the opportunity to visit somewhere like The Wave. The aim of the program was to bring in a group of young people once a week, every week, throughout the school summer holiday for fun activities, including 6 surf sessions.
We ran the pilot project working alongside two youth service providers, FACE and LPW, who carry out amazing youth work on the ground in Bristol South and Patchway. They brought the young people in each week and were there to support and mentor them.
A youth worker at LPW said:
“This was a rare and fantastic opportunity for the young people that we brought along - from supporting them in their community, to seeing them in a different environment showed us how much they enjoyed the experience....I feel their self-esteem grew week after week, which really boosted their confidence and helped them develop new relationships. On the bus to and from The Wave they were always talking positively about their experiences, which was a valuable side to them I haven’t seen before, which again was very nice to witness.”
As well as the surfing lessons, other activities included a scavenger hunt, an introduction to beekeeping and designing surfboards. The final day included a takeover of our Waikiki session, where they were joined in. the water but some of the coaches that had been teaching them over the previous 5 weeks, as well as a number of our Wavemakers who jumped in to help out and make it an hour to remember! We learnt so much working with these groups and will build on this to refine the programme and aim to run it for 16 more young people in summer 2023.
Summer of Waves was made possible due to the generous support of our partners, Feel Good Drinks, Burges Salmon and one of our frequent surfers. We are extremely grateful for their support, which allowed us to offer this summer-long experience to a group of young people that really needed it.
Maud van der Meer, Programme Coordinator at The Wave said:
“Summer of Waves has given disadvantaged young people in Bristol the opportunity to learn to surf at The Wave and join other enriching activities for 6 days across the summer holidays. Running the program really showed us how much these activities are needed and the ways in which they can make a difference to these young people’s lives. It wouldn't have been possible without the support of our brilliant funding partners and we have loved working with their teams to make a positive impact together!”