Updates Dec 2018
W4C works with young people who have been exposed to repeat adverse childhood events (ACEs) and who lack access to consistent caring adults. They have suffered multiple types of abuse, neglect, violence between parents or caregivers, other kinds of serious household dysfunction such as alcohol and substance abuse, and peer, community and collective violence.
In 2018, W4C teamed up with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and the New School University (Washington DC) to test our children’s autonomic stress response. Stress is a physiological response experienced on encountering a threat that we feel we do not have the resources to deal with. Autonomic stress response is a system that works automatically, without a person’s conscious effort.
Over time, repeated activation of the stress response takes a toll on the body. Research suggests that chronic stress contributes to high blood pressure, promotes the formation of artery-clogging deposits, and causes brain changes that may contribute to anxiety, depression, and addiction.
We expected 60% of the children in our surf and therapy program to report improvements in their emotional wellbeing. In fact, 97% reported feeling happier since joining W4C. In addition, 92% of youth indicated they had more people to talk to, 94% felt safer and 90% could calm down when they felt sad, angry or scared.
What TIAS ARMS has helped to fund: Surf therapy through a gender-sensitive approach
Female empowerment sits at the heart of our work at W4C. W4C is proud to say that more than half (56%) of our coaching staff are female, and through efforts including introducing ‘girls only’ sessions and additional transport, we boosted female participation from 16% to 40% from 2017 to 2018.
This was achieved through making extra provision for special transport arrangements for female participants, employing more female coaches, and sensitizing W4C staff to the issue of gender-responsiveness.
Over the last year we started to work with our coaches/mentors to transform our approach to gender in surf therapy and to embed practices in our program to make them more gender-responsive; aiming to positively influence participants’ perceptions about gender norms and stereotypes through role modelling gender equality practices.
It appeared our emphasis to be more gender responsive has positively affected our participants’ perceptions about gender-related stereotypes. We asked boys and girls in both February and June 2018 whether boys and girls can do the same things (e.g. surf, play all sports, washing and cooking). In February 2017, less than half (50%) of both boys and girls said yes, meaning more than half of them said NO boys and girls cannot do the same things. In a follow-up in June we asked them the same question and then many of both boys (84%) and girls (80%) said YES boys and girls can do the same things! When we asked them to give a reason for their answer that boys and girls can do the same things, their answers produced the word cloud below. You can see there were words in their answers that stood out, e.g. ‘equal’, ‘everyone’, ‘anything’, ‘everything’.
Some of our more significant highlights and achievements this past year:
Our annual reach in our Cape Town sites grew by 38% from 2017 to 2018 (264 regular attendance 429 regular attendance). ‘Regular attendance’ refers to 85% of participants receiving at least 75% of the mental health curriculum. As such, the past year has seen W4C increasing reach by opening surf therapy to more children/young people in the original Cape Town sites and across 2 new sites in East London and Port Elizabeth, while maintaining their levels of engagement and further improving the quality of our intervention. All new sites that have been opened have been embedded in the communities.
A year filled with local and international awards: W4C won three big awards during the past year: the Laureus Global Sport for Good Award for the effective use of sport to overcome disadvantage; the Impumelelo Social Innovations Award for exceptional innovation in youth development across South Africa, and the Silver Youth Ministerial Award for excellent practice in creating spaces for identity and belonging.
Extending surf therapy and mental health services to marginalized populations:
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): In 2017, W4C successfully piloted our surf therapy program with a group of children with ASD at our Khayelitsha site. Short term outcomes for the children included improved social interaction, communication, peer relationships, confidence and trust. In addition, coaches themselves reported profound shifts in their own skills, attitudes and behavior after working with this inspiring group of children; citing increased non-verbal communication skills, empathy, understanding towards differently-abled children, and the ability to adapt to context-specific situations. In 2018, W4C is scaling its work with autistic learners across due to requests for partnership and growth from local government departments, referral agencies and special needs schools. We currently run ASD groups at 3 of our sites – Muizenberg, Monwabisi and East London.
For phase 1 2018 (Feb – June), we reached an average of 81 girl children weekly at Monwa and reached an average of 69 girl children at Berg. We asked boys and girls in both February and June whether boys and girls can do the same things (e.g. surf, play all sports, washing and cooking). In February less than half (50%) of both boys and girls said yes, meaning more than half of them said NO boys and girls can not do the same things. In a follow-up in June we asked them the same question and then the majority of both boys (84%) and girls (80%) said YES boys and girls can do the same things! Under the graph is a word cloud…we asked them to give a reason for their answer that boys and girls can do the same things…and their answers produced the word cloud. You can see there were words in their answers that stood out, e.g. ‘equal’, ‘everyone’, ‘anything’, ‘everything’….