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The Wave Project – Providing mental health support through the joys of surfing

The Wave Project – Providing mental health support through the joys of surfing

Ian Curnow, Geology Searches Manager at Groundsure, recently completed his course of volunteering at The Wave Project. 

The Wave Project started back in 2010 in Cornwall with a group of 20 young people who had all been diagnosed with mental health disorders, from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia. This was the start of The Wave Project – the world’s first ‘surf therapy’ course funded by a government health service. Since then, their goal as a charity has been to harness the power of the ocean to improve the mental health of children and young people. 

Hear Ian’s thoughts on his experience as a volunteer:

I am guilty as anyone of taking the opportunity I now have to surf for granted. Growing up we could not afford what were then relatively expensive wetsuits and boards. Neither now do I worry about how I look in a wetsuit/struggling to get into one, my lack of skills and having the confidence to simply get in the sea. The Wave Project crucially takes those hurdles out of the way and offers the surfing experience to those that would benefit most.

That said, the children still have to walk through that door. That’s where the volunteers, under the guidance of the qualified and vastly experienced The Wave Project leaders, assist. Most importantly they have to instil confidence and offer support. With that backing, all the children in our group developed their surfing skills but far more importantly thoroughly enjoyed the simple buzz that comes from surfing a wave. Many will continue to surf, some may not have that opportunity but all will have gained confidence and simply had some fun from the experience.

For me, enjoying the sea with others doing the same didn’t feel like volunteering “work”. It was simply a fun and thoroughly rewarding experience.

See here a few testimonials from some of the parents involved:

“…  on one occasion he gave the day a 9/10.  This is unheard of for X, very rarely he might give something a strong eight.  We all felt very happy that day.”

“X really really loves surfing with you. He is dressed before I’ve even opened my eyes Sunday morning. You have all been amazing for him.”

“X has loved the course and gained so much confidence. He has a bike but has refused to try and learn to ride it for two years. Since learning to surf, he now says he wants to try again and thinks he can do it. He really wants to also join a surf club so he can keep surfing with everyone”.

And here is what some of the young people said their favourite things about the course were:

“The people are very supportive and nice.”

“Having somebody one to one and being in the ocean”

“Diving into the waves”


Ian looks forward to using all the skills he learned and meeting new students next summer when the charity surfing courses will resume. 

To find out more about The Wave Project and all the great work that they do, visit:


Dec 9, 2022

Ian Curnow