Active in Parks: Surfing with Young Indigenous students

The Indigenous Surfing Program is an after school coastal initiative for Indigenous students living in the Whittington area. Providing local youth from Newcomb Secondary College and Whittington Primary School with positive, fun and challenging experiences the program works in partnership with Surfing Victoria’s Indigenous officer and the Wathaurong community.

The surfing program also links in with the Whittington bush foods garden project. Both initiatives offer youth who are disengaged from school and their own ‘connection to country’ the opportunity to identify a sense of cultural pride and self-esteem. Qualified indigenous coaches and mentors assist students in developing improved linkages to culture and the environment, building pathways and developing positive links to physical activity and the outdoors.

Surfing has the benefit of not only improving health and wellbeing, but assists young people in connecting with others, pursuing a more healthy and sustainable lifestyle and learning important skills in relation to our natural environment.

Run as an after school activity in 2011, Whittington Community Renewal, Surfing Victoria, Youth Participation and Access Program, Leisure Networks and members of the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative worked collaboratively to ensure the program’s success.

Organisers reported a noted connection from the participants with positive role models and mentors, which will assist the young people in achieving positive changes. Additional benefits were an improvement in school attendance rates, and improved health outcomes through physical activity and eating.

The People and Parks Foundation acknowledge the people and elders of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia, and uphold and respect their respective relations to this land.