Using a Community Grant, you could support vulnerable kids in your community

Communities have a vital role to play in helping kids and teens, and Australia Post Community Grants can support those roles. We speak to a community group that’s boosting the mental wellbeing of vulnerable kids in a powerful, but unusual, way.

Many people think that surfing is simply the art of riding waves.

For those in the know, the sport goes much further than that. The power of surfing and its therapeutic benefits is a secret that is being shared widely in some communities: the pride of learning to stand on a surfboard for the first time, the peacefulness of catching a wave, and the connections that can be made through this mutual interest.

There are few who know the possibilities of surfing more than the volunteers who operate SalTy Souls Legacy (known as SalTy Souls).

The organisation runs a six-week surfing program called Stand Tall, where vulnerable children and teenagers on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast learn positive mental health strategies and re-engage with the community through learning to surf.

Providing access to surf therapy for kids

The founders of SalTy Souls started the organisation in memory of their brother, Tyler, who died in a tragic accident at the age of 31 while on holiday. Tyler was a keen surfer and had always wanted to start a surf school. His family are proud to carry on his dream, knowing that surfing had been an outlet for their brother, and could be for many others.

Stand Tall provides young people with the chance to be part of a community, gives them a sense of belonging, and it provides a healthy outlet that improves mental health.

“Our mission is to make sure that children from vulnerable families and disadvantaged backgrounds get the same opportunity, and can re-engage into a community,” says Tamara Smith, Co-founder of SalTy Souls Legacy.

“We have so many children, from those being bullied to children with autism and cerebral palsy,” says Tamara. They also support children with trauma backgrounds, mental illness, those in foster care, victims of domestic violence, and more. “But no matter what, they’re gaining this new self-confidence and it helps them to have better role models and hopefully, then, better life choices.”

As well as surfing, the program provides access to further support where it’s needed. Tamara explains, “We have mentors, counsellors and case workers who are actually all part of the Stand Tall program. They’re having these informal discussions with the children.”

“The feedback we get from parents and carers is that we’re changing their lives.”

Continuing to connect after the program

The Australia Post Community Grant enabled more children to participate in the Stand Tall program

The program has helped kids and their families connect with the local surfing community, with kids being given tools and strategies to support their mental health now and into the future. “They’ve all got their own stories, and they’ve all got their own journeys, but they’re able to connect through SalTy Souls,” says Tamara.

Connecting local communities

Australia Post is delivering the goods for local communities with grants to support mental wellbeing. Because when we connect, we feel better.