Waves For Change

Amanzi has joined forces with Waves for Change (W4C) – an award-winning surf therapy programme that is changing lives, one wave at a time. 


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Surf Therapy 

The inspiration started with Ashoka Fellow Tim Conibear who is an avid surfer. After graduating from a UK University, he spent hours in South African waters doing what he loves most. He initially started a small surfing club in Masiphumelele Township. The club centered around voluntary weekend surfing sessions, which soon grew when local community members – Apish Tshetsha and Bongani Ndlovu – volunteered to lead and expand the club.

They soon recognised that surfing was a wonderful platform to engage young and vulnerable youth. When they discovered that local social services were so under-resourced with a ratio of 1:30 000 social workers, a gap was identified.

In South Africa there are less than 2 mental health professionals for every 100,000 people. That means that 75% of people with mental health issues do not have access to these services. Daily exposure to violence and stress means many South Africans suffer from acute emotional and psychological stress. In the absence of emotional support, the stress often manifests in anti-social and high-risk behaviour, placing many young South Africans at-risk.

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The role surf therapy plays

Early surfing sessions showed that participants noted improved feelings of belonging, strength, trust, and confidence – key pillars of wellbeing. This was reflected in their behaviour as noted by teachers and parents.

The trio crew, teamed up with mental health professionals and development experts to develop, what today is, an award-winning Surf Therapy programme. W4C operates in some of the most at-risk communities in South Africa and Africa. Current sites include: Masiphumelele, Monwabisi, Lavender Hill, Port Elizabeth, East London, Harper in Liberia

“Waves for Change taught me to be independent and have hope for tomorrow. If I fall, I know that I can rise again. Life is full of challenges, but I should not give up.” W4C Participant.

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Reaping Rewards and Awards

  1. W4C was presented with a Laureus Sport for Good award by HRH Princess Charlene of Monaco. The award was granted for the effective use of sport to overcome disadvantage.

  2. W4C received the Impumelelo Social Innovations Award for exceptional innovation in youth development across South Africa.

  3. W4C won the The Youth Ministerial Award, for excellent practice in creating spaces for identity and belonging.


Waves for Change surf therapy Laureus Award


From an informal group of 15 children attending surf lessons occasionally in 2011 to an average of 537 children receiving weekly evidence-based surf therapy sessions in 2017 – we are proud to be associated with this incredible organization. 

Please support their work.


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Author: Reporter @ Amanzi

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