Gallery #150 - The SPLASH Issue

Page 20


How many of us take our ocean and water for granted, with that wonderful blue just fading into the background on your coastal drive to work. How often do we stop and take a moment in reflection, appreciating our beautiful scenery? Thinking what our lives might be like if we couldn’t take that quick dip, surf, paddle or simply stroll along the beach whenever we feel the urge. This luxury is something that not every Islander has the opportunity to experience and because of this, three local care workers who all share a passion for the water; Dominic Booth, Max Wiltshire and Seán Burke made it their mission to fix this. “After taking a number of our service users out into the ocean and experiencing first hand the benefits it held for them, the brain wave that is now ‘Healing Waves’ was born.” said Dom. “Individuals that struggled with anxiety, sensory implications and other conditions were suddenly relaxed, positive and engaged in the moment.” Added Max. People with limited communication that previously struggled to make choice began requesting “surfing now” regularly, making it clear this was something that many truly enjoy. As Seán points out; “We couldn’t


understand why something like this wasn’t already in place for individuals with disabilities, conditions and mental health within Jersey. Water sports are at the heart of Jersey’s culture and lifestyle, that many islanders live their lives around, so we knew this had to happen.” Healing Waves has been set up as a charity so that anyone can access free of charge, with sessions being run in volunteer’s holidays and time off from full-time work. Unveiled in July 2017 HW received an overwhelming response, with first sessions running from September to October. Having teamed up with the Merton Hotel, they also utilise Flowrider sessions throughout December. “We didn’t want families and athletes having to wait until May 2018 to come together again, so this was prefect in keeping our community alive. The Merton Hotel was fantastic and really showed what a strong community we have here in Jersey.” says Seán. “It can be vital for parents to network and support

each other, our sessions allow them this opportunity and much needed respite.” added Dom. While fundraising events have been taking place, Healing Waves have been reaching out to local sponsors and grants to assist them in their mission. This summer season is already looking exciting. With the help of Enable Jersey they have managed to secure the Channel Island’s first wheelchair adaptive surfboard that is being delivered along with training in May by Surfability CIC, a surf therapy company from South Wales. They have also purchased a box trailer that will be converted into a disability changing facility, for those less physically able, or simply require extra privacy. The development is going to be a community project, with work being undertaken by La Moye Prison and input from the Occupational Therapy Department. Max explains their goals; “Our aim is to enable individuals, breaking down those unnecessary barriers providing each athlete with the opportunity for their own unique and valuable experience. We hope that in doing this individuals will leave feeling more empowered, relaxed and confident in their own abilities, transferring this into their everyday lives.”