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Waves For Change

Project Overview


Waves for Change (W4C) is an award-winning community-based surf therapy NGO founded by Apish Tshetsha and Tim Conibear in 2011.  Waves for Change provides child-friendly mental health services to children and adolescents growing up in underserved communities. We research the most impactful interventions for vulnerable children, promote early intervention and encourage investment in preventative services that support children’s health and wellbeing.


W4C fuses the rush of surfing with an evidence-based curriculum that is delivered by young surf mentors from the same communities as the participants. We work across the two of South Africa’s coastal provinces, the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, partnering with 47 communities. Our five sites are in Muizenberg (serving Capricorn, Masiphumelele, Ocean View, Lavender Hill, Vrygrond and Retreat) Monwabisi, (Khayelitsha) Hout Bay (Imizamo Yethu and Hangberg), Gqberha (seven communities including Motherwell and Helenvale) and East London (Gompo among fourteen other communities) —reaching over 1500 children and employing 44 coaches—some of which are alumni participants. These coaches are employed on 2-year learnership type contracts, where they gain skills, qualifications and experience, making it far more likely for them to find pathways to studying or more permanent employment in their futures.

Our community-led approach improves communities’ ability to identify mental health challenges in children and young people as well as increasing communities’ access to community-based, child-friendly mental health services. The organization’s Surf Therapy programme improves children’s skills to cope with chronic adversity, trauma and toxic stress, improving their overall well-being. We provide a best practice model for integrated, physical activity based mental health services in uninsured, underserved communities across South Africa.


Through and after the 10-month programme, W4C participants are equipped with skills to cope with adversity and with the ability to self-regulate their emotions and better control their responses to perceived threat. Our programme offers a mental health services through surfing (a new and exciting sport that Black and Coloured South Africans have historically been underrepresented) that breaks the stigma attached to seeking mental health, especially in poor communities.

Contact Waves For Change


Telephone: 087 153 7960

Address: 23 Beach Road Muizenberg

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