Surf Therapy

Muizenberg. The beach town that became my home last year has tricked me. Tricked me into thinking it was the same, that I could pick up where I left off, but so much has changed. I find myself lost in thought, struggling to be present amongst this beautiful beachy community. Why am I here? I question why I came back, what I’m doing with my life, what does it mean? I look for answers amongst the sea and the mountains, my two favorite things, perfectly complimenting each other. Surely I’ll find my answers as I walk between the things I love the most.

My answers always come in the most unusual places – surrounded by 20 somethings, clapping, dancing, and chanting kilos. I’m so out of place, but I love them, without knowing them, I’m honored to be here. Waves for Change. Surf Therapy for kids – why I came to South Africa for round two. I’ve yet again been pulled to this stunning country, and returned to do research and data analysis as part of my Master’s in Public Health. What I didn’t know is that I’d find some peace, happiness, and healing despite myself in this process of research.

The mission and curriculum are explained to me in the form of balloon art. I draw my brain on a balloon along with the group and listen to the psychology of surf therapy. I see myself in the group in of township kids that have transformed their lives, they just don’t know that I’m one of them. I realize as I study the frontal lobe of my balloon, that I too had an intervention of sorts as a teenager, not a surf intervention, but a drug rehab intervention at 15 that completely changed my life and pulled me out of darkness. A part of my life that I hide has shaped me into something I could never have been without it. The odds of me ending up here are slim, and I see clearly now how I’ve changed my life ever so slowly by constantly choosing to grow out of my comfort zone, even if I don’t know that I can.

A sense of belonging, belief in yourself, and a sense of purpose. The three objectives every intervention hopes to achieve in the prospective participant. I’ve learned my lesson in a surf therapy program for children that has given me a sense of purpose in South Africa – this is why I came here. After struggling through my first semester of graduate school, I came here to relax, but yet again I found myself searching. Perhaps I’ve been searching for these three things the whole first semester at Brown. Confirmation: I do belong, I can achieve my goals, and I have a sense of purpose. It appears I need more than my busy mind, the sea and mountains; I need other people and a sense of community.

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