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Our favourite surf charities

Mother nature’s oceanic playground. Credit: Marina Weitz

22 SEP 2019

Nikita Ashford

Communities of charitable organisations helping others in need have spawned from the surfing subculture worldwide. With purposes ranging from mental health intervention through to physical rehabilitation and environmental protection – charity members are devoting their time to cleaning beaches, providing drinkable water to impoverished communities, or teaching disabled children how to surf.

Here at Surfing the Spectrum, we like to acknowledge and support the continual efforts and inspiring initiatives of like-minded community organisations across the globe. It is their time, their money, and their greater vision helping many people in several regions across the world.

There are many non-profit surfing charities inspiring us and what we do each day –  so we have listed a few of our favourite friends for you. Check them out, donate to if possible and see how you can help them along the way.

International Surf Therapy Organization

International Surf Therapy Organization (ISTO) shares best practices and promotes excellence in surf therapy on a global scale by connecting the world’s leading surf therapy organisations, researchers, clinicians, scholars, and practitioners to collaborate on studies driving growth within the surf therapy sector.

International Surf Therapy Organization. Credit: Intl Surf Therapy Org.

ISTO’s goal is to create a world where surf therapy is accepted as an evidenced-based form of healthcare. They are currently engaged with over 50 surf therapy programs across the globe – including Surfing the Spectrum. By supporting each other and new surf therapy programs, they are promoting the benefits of, and enabling more access to safe surf therapy.

ITSO envision a world where surf therapy is a healthcare option recognised globally for its emotional, physical, psychological benefits; is offered as a degree within the educational structures; and is readily accessible to anyone in need.

Surfing the Spectrum’s partnership with ITSO collectively advocates for surf therapy to be prescribed by health professionals as a standard form of healthcare and a viable treatment option to attain health and well-being.

Waves of Wellness

The Waves of Wellness Foundation (WOW) is a non-profit mental health surf therapy organisation devoted to assisting people experiencing mental health issues. The team at WOW provide for-purpose innovative programs to help change the lives of those faced with mental health challenges. They believe dealing with mental health is not simply dealing with crisis, but is also about sourcing healthy outlets for those struggling, recovering or doing well.

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Waves of Wellness Foundation CEO, Joel Pilgrim. Credit: WestpacScholars/FlashpointLabs

WOW offers programs that facilitate connections and conversations, to let people who are struggling know that they don’t have to deal with it alone – their aim is to change the way mental health is viewed and treated.

An eight-week evidenced based learn to surf program, WOW Surfing Experience (WOWSE), uses the ocean and surfing as a channel to positively improve physical and mental health and well-being.

Specialised programs for youth at-risk, youth trauma, juvenile justice, adult mental health, veterans, PTSD - returned services & emergency services personnel and the National Disability Insurance Scheme help break down the barriers and stigma that prevent these people from being well.

The expertise of mental health clinicians assists functional recovery and promotes social inclusion, engagement and enhanced quality of life. Through involvement in this program, participants gain the opportunity to learn how to use surfing as a coping strategy for their mental health.

WOW has provided 62 surf therapy programs, impacting over 700 people nationwide. The organisation is continually growing with the expansion to three Australian states within the next year.

Surfrider Foundation

Surfrider Foundation is a sea-roots non-profit organisation passionately protecting and preserving our oceanic playground of waves, beaches and coastlines – which provides us with endless enjoyment.

Their purpose is to combat the environmental destruction of coasts and marine conservation, activism, research and education (C.A.R.E.).

Beach clean crew. Credit: Surfrider Foundation Australia

By engaging environmental experts: solutions are created; local and international resources are united; and the knowledge of Surfrider Foundation’s local chapters are influenced with a global perspective when protecting the coast.

The Surfrider Foundation movement was originally established in Malibu, California over 30 years ago, and has since expanded to 18 countries around the world. With local surfers along the east coast of Australia at the forefront of water quality concerns, the Surfrider Foundation Australia (SFA) was founded in 1991.

Since the organisation’s humble beginnings, SFA now has 18 volunteer branches with numerous beach representatives tackling local and national coastal environmental issues through a series of demonstrations and actions across Australia.

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