Cornwall surf therapy project gives a major boost to disabled youngsters
A Cornish project which uses surf therapy to help disabled youngsters is producing impressive results, a survey has found.
The Wave Project, a community interest company set up to provide free lessons, said the majority of children who completed a course underwent a significant boost to their health, confidence and self-esteem.
The project recently ran a series of courses for 100 children working with social and psychiatric services.
It monitored the effects on young people with social and emotional challenges and saw noticeable improvements, including at school.
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Project founder and chief executive Joe Taylor said the beneficial effect on the children was "really clear".
"This confidence boost has clearly had a knock-on effect to other behaviour, such as school attendance, concentration and an ability to socialise with others," he added.
"We are delighted with these results, as they offer a very strong indicator that the work we are doing is making a real and tangible difference to children who have faced severe difficulties and disadvantages in their lives."
The Wave Project recently obtained £177,000 in funding from the National Lottery to run more surf therapy projects over the next three years.
An evaluation system devised by clinical psychologist Dr Kathryn Lovering asked the youngsters to rate their own wellbeing by confidence, self-esteem, trust, fun, outlook and happiness.
One 10-year-old boy with autism, who had found difficulty concentrating in school, became able to take part in PE and music after completing the project – two subjects that had previously been off limits due to his social difficulties.
Another 12-year old child who was had been refusing to attend school found the confidence to go back.
An 11-year-old with autism Olivia Brand, who suffers from motor function problems and Asperger syndrome, managed to stand up on a surf board even though she couldn't ride a bike or even a scooter.
Her parents, Chris and Andrea Brand, described their daughter's achievement as "miraculous."