Nine-year old Grace’s world flipped upside down when her Dad’s health plummeted. She was caught in the tension of being anxious about what was happening at home, and not knowing who to talk to about her struggles.
“At Burnett Heads State School the beach is our backyard. Each term we invite four to six at-risk students between Grades 1 – 6 to learn how to surf. The program is called “Stoked at the Oaks” and it’s pretty unique. It gives us the chance to talk about courage and trust and trying new things, as a lot of the students haven’t surfed before,” says Chappy Tanya.
“Grace joined ‘Stoked at the Oaks’ last year, and she was thrilled. With all that’s going on in her home life, she was quite worried a lot of the time. She’d look towards the window everytime an ambulance went past the school, checking if it would turn towards her house.”
“Down at the beach, Grace had the best time. Getting to go down to the water twice a week made her really excited to come to school.”
Grace’s mum, Tamara says Chappy’s learn-to-surf program was a ray of hope in a dark time for her family.
“I’m a mum of two (about to be three!) and also my husband’s carer. Watching Grace go to school, with her dad in and out of hospital, has been really hard. She’d find it hard to talk to anyone about what was going on – but then this surfing program came up,” recalls Tamara.
“Grace started to shine. She got her bubbly spirit back, and she knew it was okay to go and have fun. Every time she came back from surfing, you’d see a difference. She was a lot less tense – she was happy.”
“As a mum, it was so good to know your child has someone she could confide in at school. Grace really needed Chappy – our family would be lost without her.”
Chappy Tanya and colleague Bruce, got the idea for the program after watching a documentary about U.S. soldiers who had taken up surfing to recover from post-traumatic- stress-disorders (PTSD).
They realised this program could be a great way to restore joy to students who are facing difficult circumstances.
Thanks to your generosity, a young girl went from feeling scared and alone, to feeling empowered and surrounded. Thank you for being part of the village that supports our young people.