Waves for Change (2017)

In brief

Waves for Change provides a child-friendly mental health service to at-risk youth living in unstable communities. Through access to safe spaces, caring mentors, and a provision of weekly Surf Therapy sessions, Waves for Change gives children skills to cope with stress, regulate behaviour, build healing relationships, and make positive life choices.

Problem to be tackled

The average young person in a South African township experiences up to eight traumatic events every year. At-risk youth cannot access the psychosocial support needed to deal with the impact of constant exposure to trauma. Waves for Change is designed to fill this void, reframing community-based healthcare by training Surf Mentors to engage at-risk youth in daily Surf Therapy programmes.

Local partner

Waves for Change grew across Cape Town by training and resourcing community mentors to engage youth in after-school surf and mentoring programmes. It also partnered with the University of Cape Town to run a formative evaluation of its programmes.

Waves for Change works in communities affected by violence, poverty and conflict, where mental health services are often stigmatized and under-resourced.

The actual sites are Masiphumelele, Monwabisi, Lavender Hill, Port Elizabeth, East London and Harper, Liberia.


The project targets children and youth who are exposed to repeat stressful events, who lack supportive adults, feel negatively about themselves and adopt challenging behaviour patterns, reducing life chances.

SOL’s contribution

Between the years 2018 and 2020, The SOL Foundation assists at four of in the total six Waves for Change locations supporting the training of coaches and engage youth on a weekly basis in morning and after-school surf and mentoring programmes.

Project partner

Laureus Sport for Good Foundation

The SOL Foundation

Laureus is a global sports-based charity that works to improve the lives of young people. Laureus uses the power of sport to tackle violence, discrimination and disadvantage around the world, helping programmes and communities overcome challenges as diverse as gang violence, lack of education or employment, gender inequality and gender-based violence, disability, lack of facilities for post trauma mental health recovery, refugee displacement and more.

The first Patron of Laureus was Nelson Mandela.  At the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000, President Mandela said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair.” This has become the philosophy of Laureus and the driving force behind its work.

Laureus combines Laureus Sport for Good, the Laureus World Sports Academy and Ambassadors Programme and the Laureus World Sports Awards to form a unique organisation that uses the inspirational power of sport as a force for good.

Laureus was founded by its Patrons Richemont and Daimler and is supported by its Global Partners Mercedes-Benz and IWC Schaffhausen. As per 2016, Laureus Sport for Good has raised over €100 million and supported over 150 projects worldwide which use sport to tackle violence, discrimination and disadvantage. Laureus Sport for Good has helped to improve the lives of millions of young people in over 35 countries and is proving that sport can change the world.