Surf’s up: Youngsters hit the waves to boost mental health

Students at St Andrews University raised more than £20,000 to help bring The Wave Project to the town’s West Sands.

Young people in Fife are using surfing to help face the ups and downs of life.

Surf therapy is providing a confidence boost for vulnerable youngsters and making a splash with students and the community in St Andrews.

The Wave Project runs the sessions across the UK and has set up in the Fife town after fundraising by students.

“I think the NHS are recognising that not everything can be cured with the traditional forms of treatment like medication, especially when it comes to mental health,” explained The Wave Project founder Joe Taylor.

Things like surfing, being outside, being in the outdoors and being around other people, these are themes that are found to help improve mental health and wellbeing, especially for children and young people.”

Harry Williams, 12, from Lower Largo said: “Everyone has been really friendly and so are the staff so it’s a nice experience to do.

We do a bit of swimming to start off, a bit of surfing, bit of games on the beach, a bit of everything really.

It’s always enjoyable and I keep coming back.”

Ten-year-old Cameron Proctor, from Glenrothes, added: “I usually have a blast, we lie down on the board on the sand and then we practice how to stand up and get the wave.”

Students at St Andrews University raised more than £20,000 to help bring the project to the town’s West Sands, where a six-week programme is underway.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for us to get involved, and for children from around Fife to take part in a fun, rewarding activity,” said student Serena Aupois.

“I love doing community work and it’s also great to see people locally who want to volunteer come down to the beach and get involved in surfing.”

The children are referred by a range of agencies, from schools and GPs to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.

“They get one to one peer mentorship and they learn a new skill which they can master and it’s really beneficial for them,” explained The Wave Project co-ordinator Ruairidh Farquharson.

“Especially just now, after the year they’ve had, they just want to get out and do something different.

“This puts smiles on their faces.”

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