Fife surf therapy programme extended to help vulnerable young people

The UK's leading surf therapy charity, The Wave Project, has extended its surf therapy programme at West Sands beach in St Andrews for another year, after a successful pilot which saw vulnerable young people from the local area complete an initial course of surf therapy.
Young surfers have taken to the project like a 'duck to water'Young surfers have taken to the project like a 'duck to water'
Young surfers have taken to the project like a 'duck to water'

The new site, which becomes the charity’s 33rd location in the UK and the second in Scotland, will offer courses of surf therapy for vulnerable children and young people from the end of August.

The charity is hoping to reach another 80 young people in St Andrews by August next year, which aims to build confidence, self-esteem and resilience.

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Launched in May this year, the pilot was generously funded by the University of St Andrews Charities Campaign, which donated £21,000 to The Wave Project in 2018. The pilot marked the first time that a university has actively fundraised to start a new surf therapy project to support local children.

Modelled on other Wave Project courses throughout the UK, young people met after school for six weeks in partnership with surf school Blown Away, meaning 24 young people between the ages of eight and 19 were able to take part.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic mental health and social isolation were identified as primary drivers of referrals to the pilot course.

Following the pilot, self-evaluation undertaken by the young people referred showed a 41% increase in feeling confident, a 32% increase in feeling calm, and a 35% increase in being able to ‘laugh when things go wrong’ – demonstrating a positive effect on reducing anxiety, a key reason for referral to the programme.

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The scheme also generated significant interest from local volunteers, with 123 people aged between 16 and 65 signing up for volunteer sessions and a final 40 completing the full training.

Joe Taylor, founder of The Wave Project, said: “Our initial ambition with the pilot was to show the benefits of surf therapy as a mental health intervention for young people in St Andrews and the surrounding areas.”

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