Charity will continue its positive work in St Andrews

A charity which uses surfing to help the mental and physical well-being of children is to continue its positive work in St Andrews.

Thursday, 19th August 2021, 11:50 am
The charity's work has already made a positive impact on the lives of young people in St Andrews

Following a successful pilot, The Wave Project has extended its surf therapy programme at West Sands beach for another year.

The decision was taken at the end of the pilot which saw vulnerable young people from the local area complete an initial course of surf therapy.

West Sands becomes the charity’s 33rd project location in the UK and the second in Scotland, in addition to a project in Dunbar.

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It will offer courses of surf therapy to vulnerable children and young people from the end of August.

The charity says it hopes to reach another 80 young people in St Andrews by August next year through their surf therapy programme, which aims to build confidence, self-esteem and resilience.

Launched in May this year, the pilot was funded by the University of St Andrews Charities Campaign, which donated £21,000 to The Wave Project in 2018.

Courses were run on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays after school for six weeks in partnership with town surf school Blown Away, reaching 24 young people between the ages of eight and 19.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact of resulting lockdowns, two main issues affecting young people in St Andrews - mental health and social isolation - were identified as primary drivers of referrals to the pilot course.

A charity spokesman told the St Andrews Citizen: “Following the pilot, self-evaluation undertaken by the young people referred showed a 41 per cent increase in feeling confident, a 32 per cent increase in feeling calm, and a 35 per cent 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.

“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 – meaning all surfers benefited from 1:1 or 2:1 support.”

Volunteers included a mix of university students, wild swimming enthusiasts, local residents and surfers.

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