What happens to old surf equipment on the Gold Coast? We’ve all got battered boards in our garages. I do, and I don’t even surf. Now a Gold Coast engineering firm, which dabbles in cultural events is filling space in a container headed to South Africa with your unwanted boards. And they’re going to be put to VERY good use.
Share the Stoke Foundation was formed in the USA but spread its wings five years ago. Rory Heard heads up the South African arm and explains that they gift surfing equipment to help change lives for the better.
“After all, it’s changed ours and because we are so passionate we feel obligated to share the stoke,” he told Blank Gold Coast.
Rory has partnered with 14 independent programs in South Africa that use surfing as a form of therapy for severely disadvantaged youth.
“Our partnership involves the gifting of new and used surfboards and wetsuits, fins, leashes and deck grips and we host an annual tag team surfing contest where all of our partner programs participate,” he said.
Antony Smyth won a Gold Medal at the Stance ISA Adaptive World Championships. He also heads up Adaptive Surfing South Africa – a close partner to Share the Stoke – and he’s another man on a mission to change lives using surfing as the catalyst.
“Our goal is simple and two-fold,” Antony told Blank Gold Coast. “To show people with disabilities that surfing is a possibility and to make it a possibility.”
Antony does that by hosting adaptive surfing clinics where anyone with a disability can try surfing with professional coaches who are trained to support people living with disabilities get into the ocean in a safe and dignified way.
“The end users [of donated boards] will be people who are just starting out in surfing,” Antony said, “and our hope is that most of them will feel the stoke and take up surfing as a sport just like any able-bodied surfer, and who knows, maybe they will experience the healing power of the ocean, even if it is just in a small way.”
Antony said the demand was hard to keep up with. They need surfboards – the bigger the better – and soft tops especially, as they often need to support a coach and student.
“The more boards we have, the more people we can take surfing in more areas around South Africa,” Antony said.
Rory said that by gifting surfing equipment to both organisations, people were changing a human’s life.
“And we all know how great that is.”
“The demand for new and used surfing equipment simply can’t be satisfied,” Rory said.
“Our mission is to get every one of these little surfers onto a board that they can call their own and therefore assist in changing their lives.”
Rory said over recent years they’ve worked with organisations such as Waves 4 Change, Surfers not Street Children, 9Miles Project and Surf Outreach – all programs that use surfing as a form of therapy.
“They all work in keeping kids off the streets and out of informal settlements,” he said. “They all provide a safe, secure environment that helps in creating the stability that’s so needed in all of their lives.”
Roland Mork is with The Avalon Miami and driving the campaign for board donations locally.
“I grew up in South Africa and I’ve seen firsthand how some young people are forced to live,” Roland said.
“They’re orphans, or they’ve been deserted, they’ve lost parents to AIDS or been forced out onto the street for other reasons. Unemployment in South Africa is through the roof – it’s basic economics – these kids are out there begging for survival.”
“Organisations like Share the Stoke are helping to break the cycle, giving these kids mentors and self-confidence. It might seem like a really small thing, but having access to surf boards and learning to swim and surf, and having a small community of people around them is life-changing,” Roland added.
Surf boards donated on the Gold Coast will be shipped to South Africa in a container already scheduled for departure in June. Share The Stoke will manage distribution on the ground and you can follow the journey via The Avalon Miami’s Facebook page.
What to donate?
Surfboards (including soft-tops), wetsuits, leashes, deck grips and fins (new or used).
Where and when?
Between 7.30am – 3.00pm to The Avalon Miami, 7 Avalon Parade (next door to Miami Marketta)