Off to the beach!
We can't take students surfing during the winter as it is too cold and therefore not enjoyable. So it was with great excitement that we restarted out surfing program this month, bringing 11 students from ACJ Primary School back to the beach in Strand and working again with our partners Son Surf School.
The surfing trips are a reward for participation and effort in class.
The students were just as excited as we were! At least two of them asked about their surf sessions for the majority of the preceding week and all were ready to go as soon as we arrived to take them. Seeing the enthusiasm to get back into the program, and that enthusiasm still in evidence two weeks later when the novelty has started to wear off again, reinforces that the program meets its objective of rewarding students and ensuring that they do something fun and purposeful at the same time.
Though, understandably rusty, having not seen a wave for the best part of 4 months all of the students have been improving rapidly. Last week one of the girls was too worried about falling into the water to let go of her board, which more or less ensured that she fell in every time she tried to stand up. This week she was up and riding waves within 10 minutes of being in the water, and she was not alone in this. One student this week caught his first wave and immediately asked to go further out as the waves were “too small”. He and another boy ended up competing to see who could catch the biggest wave, bantering across the water with each other throughout the session.
There is another benefit to all of this as well, and it doesn’t only affect the students.
The region holds surfing competitions each year, and they have a quota to work with. Son Surf and the other schools in the area struggle to reach young people in the more disadvantaged areas, which more or less means that black and coloured young people are unlikely to be surfers. Having the connection with ACJ means that our students not only get great training but also an opportunity to enter and do well in the competitions, which in turn leads to an opportunity to surf outside of the region in further competitions.
On a couple of occasions students from ACJ have been selected to compete for the region in Port Elizabeth, which means they get to see another area, another town, another beach. This opportunity is not one that is readily available to ACJ students, or to other young people from the Nomzamo area.
So for the students, this is a fantastic opportunity to explore new boundaries and for the surf school and the surfing bodies of the region it is an opportunity to work with students they would not otherwise see and to reach areas they might not otherwise have access to.
We can't wait to see how the surfing progresses through the South African summer!
GVI South Africa
Getting the hang of it