Learning lessons in the surf

Participants in the W4C Hout Bay surf school launch seen with coaches and ward councillor Roberto Quintas.

Hout Bay pro surfer Frank Solomon’s vision for a school that teaches youngsters how to surf and look after the earth was realised last Saturday with the launch of the Waves 4 Change (W4C) Surf School. (“Surf’s up for Waves 4 Change school,” Sentinel, February 23).

A great deal of interest was shown by the youngsters in a presentation by 12-year-olds Jade Bothma and Leane Coetzer, two schoolgirl surfers who have taken it upon themselves to educate people about eco-bricks and eradicating pollution from Cape Town’s beaches.

In December, Jade, a pupil at Bay Primary in Fish Hoek, was captivated by the film, Chasing Coral, which documents the disappearance of the world’s coral reefs.

While South Africa as yet does not have coral bleaching on the scale of other nations, she nevertheless was inspired to do something for the environment.

“I’ve always seen people picking up plastic on the beach, but then they put it in the bin and this gets carried off to a dump site. We learnt about eco-bricks in school. Plastic bottles are filled with non-biodegradable waste to make bricks, which are then put together to make houses,” Jade said.

“So we decided that this is the project we wanted to work on – to collect enough bricks to make someone a house.”

So, the girls have been spending five minutes after their surf sessions picking up materials to fill the bottles. Their target is 7 000 bottles, and they have been taking their message to surf schools around the coast, while also working for W4C.

Their presentation was extremely well received by the W4C surfers from Hangberg and Imizamo Yethu, and they needed no second invitation to start picking up litter on the beach.

Imizamo Yethu resident and former Silikamva High School pupil, Anele Tyhobeka, appointed as a mentor to the up-and-coming local surfers, was delighted to see the surf school launched in Hout Bay.

“This school will make a difference in the kids’ lives,” he said.

“They are really enjoying the surfing. Since many of the Hangberg kids grew up on the water, it wasn’t difficult getting them involved.

“It was more of a challenge getting the IY kids on board, as some parents didn’t want to sign consent forms because traditionally the ocean is an ancestral place in their culture.

“But I’m really happy that we’ve been able to launch.”

Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said fellow councillor Amy Kuhl had been advocating the W4C programme to him when he was approached by Mr Solomon.

“This initiative includes youth development, teamwork and discipline, which I fully endorse. I am also thrilled to see young participants walking around filling up Coke bottles. This is instilling an awareness of looking after our oceans,” he said.

“I am looking forward to seeing W4C Hout Bay grow, and I will certainly be looking at further ways we can assist the initiative.”

The City of Cape Town has already donated wetsuits to W4C.