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Riding waves with at-risk youth

A surf programme aimed at uplifting at-risk youth will be launched by Gisborne Boardriders Club next month.

Club surfing development manager Florian Bub said the goal was to raise the number of school-aged children participating in surfing, as well as contributing positively to the Gisborne community.

“The region is famous for its consistent waves and extended sunshine hours,” he said.

“But underneath the beautiful surface lie some serious issues. Economic inequalities, alcohol and drug problems, anti-social behaviour, learning difficulties and dysfunctional families, just to name a few.

“Gisborne youth are especially affected and have the country’s highest rate of risk for poor outcomes.

“Therefore, Gisborne Boardriders Club has created this initiative called ‘Surf for Life’, which hopefully will lay the foundation for a better and more positive future for those teens.”

The club looks to run the programme from November through to April. Students will learn to surf and learn ocean education of water safety and hazards.

The programme aims to develop a young person’s confidence through surfing, working in a team and learning respect for each other.

Florian believes surfing is a great way to increase physical and mental health, provide recreation, stress relief and self-gratification, as well as having a quality experience or finding a passion for life.

“They will also learn how to take care of each other and experience that we are all equal when we are in the sea, no matter our origins or inequalities,” he says.

“They will not only learn new skills, but will also learn respect for each other within a group and community.

“It will give disadvantaged kids the opportunity to participate in a different sport, which they otherwise don’t have the access to and maybe discover their love for surfing.”

Florian said the programme would not be possible without the help of the Gisborne community.

“We have formed a collaboration with the Gisborne YMCA and have partnered up with organisations such as Stand for Children or Te Aka Ora.

“The Marina Development Society have sponsored a shipping container, where we can store equipment for the programme. Midway Surf Life Saving Club has been supportive and Gisborne District Council have given us the space for the shipping container.

“On top of that, surfers donated 60 wetsuits and 10 shortboards. Many have put up their hands as volunteers to share their love for surfing with these kids.

“We are also in the process of getting additional funding for beginner soft-top surfboards.

“We are very grateful for everyone’s contribution to this project.”

SURF FOR LIFE: Gisborne Boardriders Club, in collaboration with community groups, aims to help at-risk youth through a surf programme called Surf for Life. A shipping container sponsored by the Marina Development Society will store equipment next to Midway Surf Life Saving Club. Wellington artist Sean Duffell painted a mural on the container during the Sea Walls mural exhibition. From left are Leon Peri of Alternative Education YMCA, student Tyreece Bradley, Cam McCready also of Alternative Education YMCA, and boardriders surfing development manager Florian Bub. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell