Using The Waves To Reach At-risk Youth
Clinical Healing In The Waves
Interview with Dr. Kevin Lee Fujimoto – Mid-Week Magazine.
Posted on February 12, 201Can you talk more about the work you do with Surfrider Spirit Sessions?
Since 2006, we’ve been working with at-risk and adjudicated youths ages 13 to 18 at Waikiki Beach. Our goal is to empower these kids to make better life choices, and see that they can have a positive impact in their families, in their schools and in their communities.
Our core programs run for eight Saturdays during the spring, summer and fall, when there are waves on the South Shore. A program day is four to five hours, and each boy and girl is matched to their own same-sex adult volunteer mentor. During our day, we have a theme, such as challenges, choices or being humble. We focus on this theme during a surf session, then later, while sitting with their mentor or during our talk-story time in the group, we discuss how the theme played out, specifically with their surf session, but also how it may play out in their lives in general.
During the day, we also give a lesson on Hawaiian culture or environmental awareness. These, too, are designed to help the kids find greater meaning and connection to their world and those in it. For example, we have lessons that explain the root words that make up “Aloha” – alo, meaning “to reciprocate,” and ha, meaning “the breath of life” or “life energy.” We take that information and try to instill how to live at all times with the spirit of Aloha.
We have the kids find that positive spirit they accessed through surfing that was experienced with another caring person, their mentor, and we have them reciprocate or give back by malama aina, or taking care of the land. We do a beach cleanup at the end of each day to give back.
The kids also experience giving back during our community-service days, when we partner with other youth agencies such as Kids Hurt Too. Our kids serve as positive role models themselves as they mentor younger at-risk and needy youths in the water and on the beach.