WAVES for Change is a surfing project based in the townships of Cape Town, South Africa, by Tim Conibear. The project uses surfing as a vehicle to educate about HIV, to mediate between gangs, and train local members of the community (where surfing has never existed), to use the power of the ocean to initiate social change.
I set up the project 18-months ago as a former surf coach, lifeguard, and language student from the UK who moved to the Cape to pursue a career in the wine industry. Now four years later on the Cape I am fully invested in the development of the Waves for Change programme. A project which developed from early days of weekend surfs with kids from the local townships to its incarnation today: working with over 350 kids from various townships spread across Cape Town, lead and implemented by trained coaches from the communities the programme serves.
Life in Cape Town’s poorest communities is hard, and it’s these communities which are targeted by the Waves for Change programme. In areas where HIV infection is over 25%, where youth unemployment exceeds 50%, and where gang crime and substance abuse are tearing down old community values, Waves for Change is working hard to bring change one wave at a time. The programme uses surfing as a tool to engage with hard to reach youth and young adults and uses the draw of the ocean to run skills training, community building, HIV education and feeding programmes in communities where surfing and surf culture has never existed.
The programme seeks to create local solutions to national problems and invests in the training of local unemployed youth to run and implement programmes. Early successes include a significant boost in HIV testing amongst participants, strong gang drop out rates, participants entering rehab for drug addiction and a huge uptake of surfing in the townships, altering the make-up and dynamic of surfing in the Western Cape.
To support Waves for Change in its mission to bring surfing and social development to the poorest communities in South Africa log onto their website to see how you can help.
Thanks, Tim Conibear
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