Ocean and saltwater are one of nature’s finest remedies. Surfers and water lovers alike will profess that a daily dose of Vitamin SEA is necessary for keeping a clear head and a happy mind.
Sharing the benefits of Vitamin SEA is Tonic Surf School’s main priority.
Meet Kwame and Shon, two Welsh surfers who had a vision and founded this incredible community, fuelled by passion, love of the ocean, and a desire to help. Kwame’s Surf School, Walking on Water, teamed up with Shon’s Mental Health Charity, West Wales. That’s when Tonic Surf Therapy was born.
Tonic’s project provides ocean therapy for certain target groups. They bring in anyone in the mental health spectrum, PTSD veterans, and substance misuse. Carers, therapists, and co-dependents are also welcomed into the water.
One of Tonic’s specialties is the seated sessions in the development of their new seated access vehicle surfboard. A seated access vehicle surfboard is a specially designed piece of kit with handicapped wheelchair users in mind. The board is 10+ feet in length with a fixed chair in the center and handles down the sides to help instructors maneuver the board when in the water. These boards remove limitations for the disabled and make surfing accessible and available for everyone. With the aid of Ben at Surfability, the seated surf sessions have developed and engineered into something truly special. Currently, Tonic is the only organization in the UK delivering this access to surf sessions.
I’ve been fortunate enough to join Tonic in the water and volunteer with some of their sessions. Seeing the stoke on their student’s faces is incredible and something I will remember for the rest of my life. The joy these people got from just being in the ocean was amazing. And then their happiness of riding a wave, be it standing, sitting, or even lying down, was euphoric and inspirational – a small reminder of the immense magic found in the water.
Tonic Surf School has been focusing on the under-18’s for the last three years, thanks to the fantastic funding from the BBC Children in Need organization. However, this funding can only go so far. Often the surf school provides additional sessions for free to children and health workers, old and new students, just so they too can have a taste of the ocean’s healing properties.
Tonic’s crew is giving a shared and mindful experience. This is something us, surfers, take for granted: the community we find ourselves in.
The ocean is our safe place. The water is an incredible tool that can be used to improve and sustain emotional health and wellbeing. Tonic taps into this resource for recovery. Reconnecting with yourself and the ocean.
Offering surf therapy to kids changes the idea of exercise. Surf is exciting, adventurous, and cool. Immersion into an ever-changing natural environment on so many different levels, whether it’s physically, mentally, or emotionally.
But it is not just about the water. Tonic’s crew is giving a shared and mindful experience. This is something us, surfers, take for granted: the community we find ourselves in.
When Covid-19 lockdowns came in, the pause button was hit. Kwame quickly stepped up to assist where possible in the health care sector, making use of his qualifications.
At a time when every pair of hands was a blessing, this, unfortunately, did not put a pause on racial discrimination from the police. Kwame experienced almost daily police questioning while travelling to provide care to those in need. “Apparently you can’t be black and live in Wales,” Kwame mentioned.
But these everyday challenges never stopped the care, just like tides never taking a break.
Surf therapy is becoming increasingly popular across the globe and I urge you to get involved. Jumping in the water on these sessions gives such warmth to your heart.
Sharing happiness, sharing our passion. There really is nothing better.