How We Started

On A Beach In Torquay

Ocean Mind is a community surf movement creating therapeutic surfing programs. We use an evidence-based model which has demonstrated outstanding results in helping young people who are experiencing difficulties to make them feel more accepted, positive and comfortable with their lives

The charity started in 2016 piloting a UK based surf therapy model created by The Wave Project. The aim was to use a simple formula of mentoring, fun and surf to create life-changing experiences for young people experiencing mental health issues, social isolation and disabilities.

Ocean Mind bases its model on the evidence-based program developed over the last 10 years in the UK as The Wave Project.

The pilot program in Australia showed similar results to those in the UK. Young people were feeling more confident, improved their outlook on life and gave them a sense of achievement whilst having a lot of fun. Encouraged by the result the Ocean Mind Inc. was established as a not for profit charity in Australia.

Our Guiding Principles

The Ocean Mind Inc. Ethos

Ocean Mind Inc. aims to give young people the skills, confidence and self-efficacy they need to achieve their goals, no matter what additional challenges they face. We recognise that every young person is different and each responds to challenges differently, but with the right assistance and support they can do it.

The intervention uses local surfers to help young people reduce anxiety and improve their emotional health. It is a simple but powerful formula that nurtures young people and creates a safe environment for young people to challenge themselves, create new friendships and develop new skills.

We train local volunteers to work with participants, teaching them to surf and developing supportive relationships. The sessions are delivered by a mix of paid staff and volunteer surf-mentors. Some of our surf mentors started out as participants themselves. Most importantly, our sessions are free of any pressure to succeed – participants work at their own pace and achieve their own goals. They can work 1:1 with their mentor, or get more involved with the group. Our ethos is to be totally participant-led. The role of the surf mentor is to encourage and enable, not to push participants towards an arbitrary goal. We have found that this approach reduces anxiety and allows participants to feel empowered, enabling them to overcome challenges and develop a sense of pride in their achievements.

We take referrals from professionals working with vulnerable children and young people, and also run private lessons for charities and companies. Regular referrers include schools, child protection services, mental health services, GPs, family support services, counsellors and children’s charities.

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Our Method & Science

Our Evidence-based Program

Ocean Mind Inc. is an evidence-based intervention. This means all our programs are evaluated and assessed to ensure they have a positive impact on participants.

Our evaluation measures:

• Changes to client well-being over time
• Impact on behaviour post course
• Client’s sense of safety during sessions
• Impact on clients’ families where applicable
• Impact on education where applicable