Thanks to all who donated through the My LA2050 Ideas Archive match! We've reached our $10,000 limit. Any additional donations will not be doubled but will still support the incredible nonprofits, so keep spreading the love.

play Winner / 2016

Theraputic Ocean Engagement: Surfing (T.O.E.S. as in, on the nose!)

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Surf Bus Foundation

Therapeutic Ocean Engagement: Surfing (T.O.E.S)

Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

Surf Academy (for surf equipment rentals)

Please describe your project proposal.

TOES programming breaks down barriers of access to LA County beaches. Surf Bus invites LA City Park and Recreation Departments out to the beaches of Los Angeles to become ‘ocean literate’ and we provide the transportation, bathing suits, wetsuits, surf boards, boogie boards, munchies, and the ocean safety and education needed to surfvive and thrive in Los Angeles! Our program has a measurable positive impact on the self-esteem, motivation, endurance, and trust (in self) of our participants.

Which of the play metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • Access to open space and park facilities
  • Number (and quality) of informal spaces for play
  • Number of children enrolled in afterschool programs
  • Number of parks with intergenerational play opportunities
  • Per capita crime rates
  • Perceived safety

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • South Bay
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to play?

We are a social justice organization working to connect at-risk youth with the wonder and healing power of the sea. We believe that the ocean, a healing resource, should be accessible to all. Unfortunately, most low-income communities in Los Angeles County are cut off from ocean access through lack of transportation. It is our mission to connect youth growing up in urban areas with the ocean in a way that is empowering, playful, and safe. Surf Bus Foundation was honored by the Justice Department in 2012 for our work with at-risk youth. Apparently a trip to the beach improves internal security of our country (gang prevention! The time children spend with us is time free from the pressure of gang recruitment).

The Surf Bus Foundation was founded as an urban outreach program in response to the drowning of Theresa Robertson, a twelve-year old girl from South Los Angeles, who was caught in a rip current in Manhattan Beach. She came to the beach to play and was caught unaware and uneducated about the great power of the sea. There continues to be a public health and education crisis for youth that engage in open water settings, especially ocean rip currents. Statistics from the CDC show that youth of color drown at higher rates than their Caucasian counterparts, most likely because they grow up without the same open-water awareness, experience, and education as youth residing in coastal communities.

We wholeheartedly believe in the healing power of the ocean. Children live in a physical world of exploration and the ocean environment is kinetic in nature. The energy of the sea has a calming and centering effect on all those who enter and we believe this connection directly benefits Los Angeles County. Our past work has far-reaching therapeutic benefit for youth with trauma pasts, mental health challenges, or autism. It seems that the sea of life on land for these youth has rip currents of depression and danger. The marine environment, ocean immersion, and the direct engagement of surfing waves (whether on a surf board, body board, or body surfing) offers therapeutic intervention similar to that of equine therapies which are now embraced as transformative for trauma survivors. The shifts in life-outlook through successfully engaging turbulent waves of the sea are transferable to negotiating turbulent seas on land – at home and in school.

Surf Bus Foundation is applying for the LA2050: PLAY grant because our love for this city and its coastline are central to the work we have done with youth since 2003. Our educational programming leverages our deep roots in the community. We cultivate fondness for the sea through teaching youth about how human actions are negatively impacting our local and global ocean environments. Our ocean safety education is empowering. We teach youth how they can make a difference by becoming ocean stewards, starting in their own communities, and thereby protecting the Santa Monica Bay for all to enjoy.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

We like to say the best surfer in the water is the one having the most fun!

We define our success by what our students retain of their ocean literacy curriculum over a two week period of immersion in surfing: TOES. We are studying the impact of TOES on Self-Esteem, Motivation, Endurance, and Trust (in self).

We measure the success with anonymous surveys given to students before their two weeks of immersion in TOES and then a follow up survey upon culmination of the second week. We will also employ participant observation, staff and student interviews, and daily surf journals kept by the surf teachers.

The surveys will have questions asking the children to rate their perceived levels of self-esteem, motivation, endurance, and trust. The questions will relate to school, sports, and life at home.

The interviews with staff and students will be video-taped and their content assessed by the executive director. The questions will relate to our ocean literacy curriculum, their experience of the beach, and their experience in the water.

The surf logs will be kept by the staff. Every day they will record the weather and water conditions, adherence to timeline, and receptiveness by students of lessons. These logs will be assessed for any positive/negative correlations with the perceived success of the program (interviews) with the actual success (surveys).

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles etc.)
  • Education/training
  • Community outreach