Waves of Happiness
The Van Morrison lyrics ‘smell the sea and feel the sky, let your soul and spirit fly,’ capture the essence of The Wave Project, which uses surf therapy to support youngsters experiencing anxiety, depression, disability, family breakdown or bullying.
Wooden Spoon Dorset, Wiltshire & Hampshire provided a £6,000 grant to the project, which enhances confidence, reduces isolation, increases well-being, and challenges young people to build resilience. Alice, 14, was referred by her school for a six week course in Boscombe, Dorset. She loved it so much, she became a volunteer. Alice’s mum Laura said: “Alice is a young carer, her dad has mental health issues and epilepsy. At this age, she really feels the responsibility. There’s all the usual teenage stuff, but this throws in a bit more. “Alice’s confidence has grown, it’s a very nurturing project. From day one they made her feel she belonged. We’re really grateful for it.”
Alice said: “We surf, bodyboard, swim, or paddleboard if the waves aren’t very big. We paddleboard to the buoy – once, there were jellyfish out there, the kids were going crazy about them! “All the volunteers give you applause when you catch a wave or get close to catching one. If people aren’t confident, they always say well done just for getting in the water.
“As soon as I’m at the beach, that catharsis of hearing the waves and having your feet in the sand, it’s like no other feeling. I always refer to the beach as my happy place. It’s probably the only place I just feel pure happiness, with no worries or anxiety. “Each week I’m counting down the days, and once I’ve done it, the serotonin stays with me, it seems to carry me on through school.”