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Laureus Summit interview series: The Wave Project, UK

Copyrights: Laureus Sport for Good Foundation

Laureus Summit interview series: The Wave Project, UK

sportanddev spoke with Joe Taylor, CEO of The Wave Project, on how surfing can become a tool for teaching resilience and improving mental health. recently attended the Laureus Summit in Paris, where more than 130 organisations from all corners of the globe – all funded by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation – gathered to share best practice and discuss the future of sport for development. We spoke to five projects about what they do, and what they gained from the Summit. Tell us about your project.

Joe: The Wave Project is a surfing project primarily for children and young people who are at risk of mental health problems or who are socially excluded in some way, or both. Our focus is on mental health and wellbeing, and we use surfing as a tool for re-integrating children, where they learn from each other and they learn from other surfers. Ostensibly they are there to learn to surf but they also learn skills like resilience, confidence, self-management and teamwork. This improves their mental health and wellbeing. We are currently working across 13 projects in the UK, and around 1000 children.

What is the benefit of attending the Summit?

Summits like this are really helpful. For me, the primary benefit is meeting other organisations and listening to the challenges they are facing and how they are solving them. You can talk really honestly peer to peer. It’s not just about funding, I had a really interesting conversation with Magic Bus in India about scaling, and how they scaled up from working with 3,000 children a year to 400,000. I’m not saying we would copy that model but it’s helpful to hear how people approach those kind of challenges.

What would you like to see happen in the sport for development sector over the next five years?

I would like to see it be taken more seriously, for example by national governments. It’s making a real impact and difference, and good programmes really do change lives – even if that sounds like a cliché. Sometimes people don’t see past the word ‘sport’. We suffer from this a lot, people see our project as just surfing and they say ‘isn’t that nice but why should we fund it?’ The problem is that very often ‘Sport for Good’ programmes are just too far down a government’s agenda to be taken seriously. It’s about meeting halfway, this sector needs to evidence what it does better – we really need to get to grips with what the real impact is. And we also need to work better collectively, we don’t really have much of a voice – Laureus is one of the few organisations that tries to provide that.


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Simon Lansley


Monday, November 5, 2018 - 10:02

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