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Waves of Wellness Foundation


Waves of Wellness Surfing Experience


Lake Macquarie, NSW



Funding Dates

January 2018 - November 2018

The issue

In Australia, one in five people experience challenges with their mental health, yet the issue remains highly stigmatised preventing many from seeking the necessary support or treatment.

Increased awareness of mental health follows a positive change in the way mental health is viewed and treated.

The Waves of Wellness (WOW) Foundation is a mental health surf-therapy charity committed to changing lives by delivering for-purpose innovative programs for people experiencing mental health challenges.

'Get wet and have a good time' is the idea behind WOW, but their message runs much deeper than that with the programs helping participants to understand that it's OK not to be OK, and that you don't have to  ever go it alone.

The project

We're helping WOW to deliver the WOW Surfing Experience, an eight-week learn-to-surf program for young people experiencing mental health issues.

The evidence-informed program will be run in Lake Macquarie, NSW and will be an opportunity to introduce surfing to participants as a way to improve physical and mental health and wellbeing.

The program will be facilitated by health clinicians who are trained in learn-to-surf instructing, as well as 10 volunteers who will be paired with each participant.

Based on research, as well as, first-hand experience from mental health clinicians working with WOW, the program encompasses the three pillars of wellness:

1. Social inclusion;

2. Connection to nature; and

3. Engagement in meaningful activity.

The impact

With 45% of Australians affected by mental health issues in their lifetime, the learn-to-surf program helps to de-stigmatise any negative connotations associated with mental health and encourages youth to participate in a non-clinical, inclusive and social setting.

Through involvement in the WOW Surfing Experience program, youth are given the opportunity to learn how to use surfing as a coping strategy for their mental health and encourages them to explore alternative healthy outlets and positive ways to improve physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Using surfing and the ocean as an outlet to explore, stimulate and facilitate positive therapeutic outcomes, participants are encouraged to discuss mental health issues in a social and relaxed setting with the overall aim of reducing symptoms and improving mental health among participants. 

Joel Pilgrim, Founder and CEO using surfing to remove Mental Health Stigma:

More Info: visit Waves of Wellness