Our Vision for Change

Our Beach Hubs and trained community surf mentors create a safe space where children who are identified as “at-risk” are referred to find belonging, learn new skills, build confidence, and create positive behaviours toward mental wellness.

Our Mission

To increase access to child and youth friendly community based mental health services in under resourced communities

Our Goal

At a time when children’s brains are still flexible, our Surf Therapy service, provides supportive and caring relationships, key to reshaping the brain and responses to stress during adolescence.

  • Evidence-driven Surf Therapy across five flagship sites in South Africa.
  • Robust external research to generate learning to share with the sector.
  • Best practice training and mentoring to support increased access to physical activity based, mental health and well-being promotion services across low and middle income countries.

How it all started: Isiqalo

Waves for Change grew from voluntary weekend surfing sessions run at Muizenberg Beach, Cape Town, by founders Apish Tshetsha and Tim Conibear. Early research into the surfing sessions highlighted the valuable psycho-social support that was otherwise unavailable to the participants.

Understanding that the key to Waves for Change lay in mobilising passionate youth coaches, Waves for Change worked with universities and mental health practitioners to refine a coach training programme, pragmatic evaluation tools and a codified curriculum to leverage the social and emotional learning offered by surfing.

Founded as the Isiqalo Foundation Trust, Waves for Change delivers Surf Therapy courses through a network of South African Beach Hubs. Outside of South Africa, Waves for Change shares its training, curriculum and evaluation tools with an international network of partners: The Wave Alliance.

Surf Therapy with Mental Health at our core

Over the last ten years, Waves for Change has worked with community stakeholders, local and international universities, and referral partners to design and deliver a cost-effective and inclusive youth-focused well-being service. At the heart of our programme are youth from the same or similar contexts to our participants, who we recruit based on their values and commitment to being change-makers in their community. We support their work as surf therapy coaches by investing in their skills and understanding, and providing the resources – such as transport, lesson plans, surfboards, on-going management, and access to psychologists – they need to deliver impactful surf therapy sessions.

Our Supporters

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you take volunteers at Waves for Change?

Unfortunately, we do not currently take on volunteers to deliver our surf therapy programme or interact with our participants. Our model focuses on supporting and enabling local youth to deliver a sustainable surf therapy service to children from their community. The participants who we serve also need consistent and stable interactions with caring mentors who they can relate to and from healthy connections with. Volunteers from outside of the communities we work for unfortunately do not fit into this model, and we are unable to provide a volunteer experience that is meaningful and impactful for both our participants and volunteers.

Can I apply to do an internship at Waves for Change?

We do take interns to support our Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning, office operations, marketing and communications. If you have relevant skills in these fields and can offer a mid/long-term commitment to supporting our work, please send through your CV and motivation letter.

The Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning department, ask for the following requirements:

  • Postgraduate qualification in any field related to community development and social sciences
  • Qualitative and Quantitative research skills

The following skills are particularly useful for the marketing and fundraising department:

  • Copyediting
  • Marketing content designs
  • Graphic design

I would like to apply to be a surf mentor, but I do not know how to surf. Can I still apply?

Yes, you can apply.

If you are a young person from the communities that W4C works in (Cape Town: Muizenberg, Monwabisi, Hout Bay; Eastern Cape: Gqeberha and East London) and you would be interested in becoming a W4C surf mentor, you do not need to know how to surf prior to applying.

How can I arrange a visit to any Waves for Change site?

Before visiting any of our five sites, please ensure that you first contact our programme manager to make an appointment.

I am a journalist/photographer interested in visiting Waves for Change.

We do not grant close and personal contact to the participants. If media contact is focusing on coaches, coaches must be properly informed of the project in order to provide informed consent. You may not ask personal questions of the coaches or leading questions to probe if a coach or participant has suffered any form of abuse.

Get a Child to the Beach

Just a ripple can make waves and change lives through surfing and child-friendly mental health.