How a young carer, who spent most of her early teens caring for her uncle with Down's syndrome, turned to surfing to feel 'happy' and 'encouraged' in life once again

  • Ebony, from Newquay, spent much of her early teens caring for her Uncle David
  • The selfless young carer missed out on being able to partake in her favourite hobbies with her friends during these years
  • But Cornwall's Young Carer's service referred Ebony to a surfing club, who use the sport to help young people tackle mental health issues
  • She has since earned her surf instructor's badge, and continues to volunteer at The Wave Project

Written by Samantha Lade for DonateToday

PUBLISHED: 14:35, 18th Sep 2017 | UPDATED: 09:44, 27th Sep 2017

A Selfless Act

The award-winning courses at The Wave Project are proven to help reduce anxiety and improve social engagement skills

Most teenage girls spend time with their friends, partake in their favourite hobbies, and enjoy their after-school hours at their own leisure with a sense of freedom.

But for young Ebony from Newquay, her early teenage years were dedicated to the selfless act of caring for her Uncle David, who had Down's syndrome.

After this tough time, Ebony needed an escape - something enjoyable and exciting to focus her energy upon.

It was the Cornwall Young Carer's service who eventually referred Ebony to a six week course in surfing – a sport she had once adored, but had not had the time to focus on in recent years. However, this referral wasn't just to any old scheme.

Returning to the Waves

The Wave Project, formed in 2010, uses the sport of surfing as a form of 'therapy' for young people facing mental health issues. By getting young people outside and enjoying exercise, this can lead to a reduction of anxiety, an increase in confidence, and the creation of a more positive mental attitude.

So in September of 2011, Ebony began her six week course. 'I used to surf quite a lot when I was younger, but as I became a young carer I had a limited amount of time to do it,' she explains.

'I was referred on to the Wave Project, and loved it straight away. It was really good fun. All the volunteers who worked with me were really supportive and encouraging.

'It had a really happy vibe and gave me the chance to hone my skills and get better at surfing.'

"I wanted to help other clients feel as happy and as encouraged as I was."

- Ebony

Giving Something Back

But Ebony's relationship with The Wave Project did not end after her six week course came to a close. Instead, the then 14-year-old asked if she could stay on and volunteer with the charity.

'I saw what an effect it had on myself and other people and wanted to give something back. I wanted to help other clients feel as happy and as encouraged as I was,' says Ebony, speaking to The Wave Project website.

Based in Newquay, The Wave Project courses take place in nine different locations across the UK's coastal areas

'I felt like I was part of a little community of surfers helping other people.'

'It was really nice volunteering having been a client on the project, and watching other kids coming out of their shells and being more interactive with each other. It was nice to see them with a smile on their face.'

The Newquay local has since completed her surf instructor course, and is now training to complete her ISA Surf Coach award – which the Project themselves have provided funding for.

Please note that names may have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved. Images are used for illustrative purposes only and, unless specified, persons included in images are posed models, not the persons mentioned in the article.