Waves for Change (W4C) is an organisation that provides an “evidence-based surf therapy programme” to youth in Cape Town.

It is designed to give youth an opportunity to have vital experiences which meet their psychological, developmental and well-being needs. W4C does this by providing kids access to caring adults and a supportive peer group, building a positive self-concept by independently mastering difficult new tasks such as surfing and meditation, and offering respite from the stress caused by the adversity they experience daily. W4C aims to support children in taking agency over their behaviour and emotions.

W4C began in 2009 as a small, informal weekend surf club for a handful of children from Masiphumelele, Cape Town. Every weekend, co-founders Tim Conibear and Apish Tshetsha would take the children surfing at Muizenberg beach, a historically “whites” only beach with perfect beginner waves.

Due to the lack of access to mental health services for children living in Masiphumelele, Tim and Apish realised that their surf club could provide a chance for these kids to deal with these issues constructively. 

Since its inception, W4C has worked with community stakeholders, local and international universities, and referral partners to design and deliver a cost-effective and inclusive youth-focused well-being service. W4C finds mentors from the same communities as the children they support, and recruit based on their values and commitment to being change-makers in their community. They support their work as surf therapy mentors by investing in their skills and understanding, and providing the resources – such as transport, lesson plans, surf boards, on-going management, and access to psychologists – they need to deliver impactful surf therapy sessions.

Their team of over 40 surf therapy youth mentors positively impact the lives of over 1000 children through weekly surf therapy sessions, and their vision remains the same as when we started our first weekend surf club in 2009: change lives, one wave at a time.

Lancaster Foundation supported Waves for Change by purchasing a vehicle. This vehicle will be used for…