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Waves For Change

Waves For Change

“Changing lives, one wave at a time.”

On Friday October 20th, NGO Waves For Change held a surf therapy session at Muizenberg Beach for about 30 kids ranging from ages 12-16. Cape Town based photographer Dave Fisher captured eventful moments to help raise awareness for this cause.

– text by Fernanda Hurtado Ortiz, images by Dave Fisher


No matter the weather, Muizenberg beach is always crowded with surfers of all levels. Due to the low and constant waves, the beach, 40 min away from Cape Town, has become the best surf therapy location, giving way to tourism and surfing schools. With an overcast sky and the sun peering out, the waves are ideal, as evident by the crowded ocean. Past the iconic colorful changing shacks and the waving shark alert flag, a large group of kids all wet-suited up sits in a circle with their eyes closed, surf boards laying near them.

The group is part of NGO Waves For Change (W4C), as they take part in their pre-surfing meditation. W4C based in Muizenberg, provides safe spaces, caring mentors and a provision of weekly ‘Surf Therapy’ sessions to give vulnerable children the skills to cope with stress, regulate behavior, build healing relationships and make positive life choices. They work with communities impacted by violence, poverty, and conflict where mental health services are under resourced and stigmatized.

“We set ourselves up to understand the impact of trauma on the way we behave and learn,” said Tim Conifer, W4C founding director & CEO. “We understand that there are certain activities that really transform the way we feel about ourselves and interact with the communities around us. Surfing is the way we wrap the program up but the main outcome is mental health.”


On today’s session the group is split into two groups of girls and boys, each with a mentor to guide them in the water. The first group of girls finish their meditation and begin their warm up, playing duck, duck, goose. Once they are all ready they head into the water with two surfboards to share. A few minutes later a group of boys walks past with surfboards carried above their heads, confidently. Their warm up also includes a quick emotional check in, meditation and since they are strong growing boys, push ups!

Each with a surfboard under hand they head into the chilly Atlantic water and dive toward the waves. Paddling past the small waves they head into the bigger surf, some managing to stand, others staying on their stomach until they reach the edge of the beach. And a few others prefer to sunbathe on the boards, tired from their surfing session. Once their wetsuits are hanging to dry by the bus, they are given water and bread, and a last check in on how they enjoyed the surfing therapy. The group is all smiles and tired faces after a great session of emotional and physical therapy and above all, hanging loose.

Learn more about this Waves for Change, or how you can get involved!

Find out coverage on NGO sports activities for kids, check out our articles on Connecting with Nature and Street Sports tournament.

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