The Wave Project is a surf therapy charity which is dedicated to transforming the lives of vulnerable youth struggling with their mental health. Through surfing and 1:1 mentoring, we provide an innovative and accessible way to help young people overcome their personal challenges, improve their mental health, confidence and self esteem.
Youth are referred by professionals eg social workers, Doctors, psychologists, Camhs (Child & Adult Mental Health Services) Teachers etc Surf Therapy courses take place over 6 weeks and are delivered in small groups with each participant being assigned a personal mentor. These courses are evidence based and proven to help improve the wellbeing, confidence and emotional resilience of participants.
Currently The Wave Project have award winning programs established in England, Scotland and Wales. We would love to see this type of therapy being made available to the youth of Northern Ireland.
Unquestionably, there is a massive need for this type of service here in NI. A recent report from the Northern Ireland Commission for Children and Young People (NICCY) indicates that 20% of all youth are suffering significant mental health problems by the age of 18. Statistics from NI also indicate increasing prevalence of mental ill health in children and young people in NI in terms of both the scale and complexity, with rates of mental ill health estimated to be 25% higher in NI than in other parts of the UK.
Please find below a short story of how Surf Therapy has made a difference in the life of one young person:
Lily is 15 and autistic. Before the Wave Project Lily was defined by what she could not do rather than what she could do. Lily would not socialise, interact with her peers , try or enjoy new things. After completing a 6 week course of surf therapy - the results for both Lily and her family were life changing.
“.....when we came back, Lily was chatting, she was smiling - she wanted to come again! She loved it and has been going ever since. Now Lily loves getting in the sea. She says: “the waves miss me”. She is not too bothered about who is there, she is just happy to get in the water.” (Lily’s father)
Being active helps Lily physically and emotionally. She needs to expend energy and surfing makes her feel tired. It helps her cope with life and ‘up to a point’ makes her more communicative. Lily enjoys surfing and it improves her mood.
After the Wave Project Lily can now be defined by what she can do: she wants to try different things - she has started doing Outward Bound activities - with her sister; she is able to get on with others; she is more outgoing; she is more patient, communicative, tolerant of change and empathic.
“It was only really the surfing that made her try different things and actually want to do things. When the last session finished early because one of the other clients becoming unwell, I expected her to be anxious but in fact she expressed empathy for the other person. She now has a tolerance of change. I see that in other aspects of her behaviour. This wouldn’t have happened without the Wave Project.” (Lily’s father