For these Peruvian kids, surfing isn’t just water play

Surf therapy is being used in Peru and around the world to help children with mental health issues and other challenges.

Understanding the program: Surf therapy seeks to help children navigate their emotions and establish positive social connections through the physical exercise and camaraderie experienced in surfing.
* The surf school in Lima where this therapy is carried out is part of Alto Peru, a local nonprofit which serves the children of a marginalized neighborhood.
* Research has shown that surf therapy can foster self-esteem, combat depression, and even assist in healing post-traumatic stress disorder.

In depth: The challenging realities faced by the children participating in the Alto Peru program are stark, covering drug and alcohol addiction, sexual violence, and physical abuse.
* However, the program is designed to create a “different world” for the kids, where they don’t have to fear.
* Also involved in community development, Alto Peru has helped to create a playground on a former garbage dump and paint murals on several neighborhood walls.

Broadening the lens: Surf therapy, which emerged over a decade ago in South Africa, is seen as an effective method to address mental health issues among youth globally.
* It’s been applied in programs from Sierra Leone to California, aiding children and even adults to deal with trauma.

Unpacking results: Studies have linked surf therapy to significant improvements in mental health, including life-enhancing transformations and reduced symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
* The mental health benefits go beyond just the physical activity; the sense of community and belonging the kids feel is crucial to the therapy’s success.
* The future may see these foundational structures broadened even further, with organizations globally benefitting from training in the Waves for Change model.

View original article on NPR

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