Riley Lucas, feeling it!
Christine and Daisy Meek - half of the family mentioned in the piece.
Our writer, Alice Creevey. All photos were taken by Pete Bongiorno at Ocean Grove Main Beach on the Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria.
3 August 22
For over five years Ocean Mind has been using surfing to change the lives of young people. It all started in 2016 when CEO and Founder, Rachael Parker, met some local surfers to mentor kids with mental health challenges at Torquay Main Beach. This was the organization’s first ever surf therapy session. Something magic happened that day, and Ocean Mind has been running their life-changing, therapeutic surfing programs ever since.
Ocean Mind is a community surf movement that provides therapeutic surf programs to young people experiencing mental health challenges, disabilities and social isolation - which we all know is a growing challenge in our communities, especially after the last few years. Participants are matched with a trained volunteer surf therapy mentor. They learn to surf, participate in wellbeing activities, alongside a group of 10 other kids and mentors over six weeks. The programs are free. Everything is provided, including transport. Ocean Mind brings the mental health benefits of surfing to kids who need it.
To celebrate their five year anniversary, last month Ocean Mind brought 150 of their supporters together for a night of stories and fundraising at the Geelong Library. An incredible group of speakers shared their experiences about how the charity has impacted their lives. One family, whose two kids have completed the program, told the audience that Ocean Mind has become ‘their home’. The family travel over 250kms from outer Melbourne to the Surf Coast each weekend, so their kids can surf with the awesome Ocean Mind team.
Ocean Mind has an exciting future ahead. They’re growing their programs to keep up with the high demand on the Surf Coast and have just expanded to Warrnambool this year. They also have an incredible partnership with Deakin University to research the impact of their program, demonstrating the therapeutic benefits of surfing. After all, only a surfer knows the feeling.
They are a volunteer driven organization, and are always looking for new partners and donations. Go to oceanmind.org.au to find out more.
AUTHOR: ALICE CREEVEY – for Ocean Mind