Surfing program aims to change lives

Surfing program aims to change lives

Not-for-profit surf community OneWave launched their unique 12-week program designed to teach people experiencing mental health issues how to surf at Nobbys Beach last Friday.

OneWave is well known for their Fluro Fridays, a creative initiative that has spread worldwide, raising awareness for mental health by surfing in fluro to draw attention and getting people talking about mental health, a topic which is normally avoided. The launch of the The OneWave Surfing Experience also coincided with the recommencement of Fluro Fridays in Newcastle, at Merewether Beach on the same day.

This is the second program launch, after the successful implementation of a pilot in Bondi earlier this year. OneWave has partnered with local mental health organisations PIR Lake Macquarie and NEAMI, as well as Newcastle Surf School, to implement the OneWave surfing experience in the local area.

OneWave founder Grant Trebilco, said The OneWave Surfing Experience is a new initiative from OneWave, designed specifically for people experiencing mental health issues within the local health service.

“When I was diagnosed with bipolar three years ago it was surfing with my family and my mates that helped me the most,” Grant said. “Sometimes one wave really is all it takes. I want anyone experiencing mental health issues to have the opportunity to experience how good feels to get in the ocean and catch a wave.”

Novocastrian OneWave Manager & Mental Health Occupational Therapist, Joel Pilgrim said the program aims to normalise mental health challenges.

“The primary focus of this program is to combine physical health and clinical life skills, in a neutral, non-intrusive natural environment,” Joel said. “This in turn, aims to improve social engagement and quality of life for mental health clients, away from the traditional clinical setting.”

“Preliminary research reveals that this program impacts participants in many important ways, including improved confidence, strengthened social supports, improved daily structure, increased enjoyment of life, decreased worry and anxiety, and a sense of accomplishment”

Former program participant, Brad said The OneWave Surfing Experience has played a big role in his recovery.

“It gets people up and motivated, it’s a real kick start, it’s got me fitter, and happier, and has set me a routine. It’s been really beneficial for my mental health,” Brad said.

According to Black Dog Institute (2012) (one in five (20%) Australians aged 16-85 experiences a mental health illness in any year, However, only 65% of people with a mental illness do not access any treatment. OneWave aims to normalise mental health issues by helping people understand they are not alone, incorporating their popular mantra – It’s ok not to be ok.

Image courtesy of Beau Pilgrim


OneWave is a not-for-profit surf community tackling funks like depression, anxiety and bipolar with a simple recipe; salt-water, surfing, good mates and Fluro Fridays.

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