How we started
So what is the Ocean Mind Program Is it a community surf movement based on a UK based program? Or is it an evidence- based health institution that 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 answer is – both. The charity started in 2016 as a voluntary group funded by the Wave Project UK. The aim was to use volunteers to provide one-to-one surfing lessons for young people with mental health issues as a way of getting them outside, doing physical exercise and feeling more confident about themselves.
The program is based on the evidence based model 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 fun. Encouraged by the result the Ocean Mind Inc. was established as a not for profit charity in Australia.
Ocean Mind Inc. is an evidence-based intervention. This means all our programs are independently evaluated and assessed to ensure they have a positive impact on clients.
Our evaluation measures:
• Changes to client wellbeing 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
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 surfers to work with clients and teach them to surf. The sessions are delivered by a mix of paid staff and volunteer surf-mentors who work in partnership with established surf schools. Some of our surf mentors started out as clients themselves. Most importantly, our sessions are free of any pressure to succeed – clients 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 client-led. The role of the surf mentor is to encourage and enable, not to push clients towards an arbitrary goal. We have found that this approach reduces anxiety and allows clients 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.