Help keep surf-academy kids stoked

A Muizenberg surf academy that helps children from poor communities is facing a funding crisis.

A Muizenberg surf academy that helps kids from poor neighbourhoods is facing a funding-crisis wipeout.

Established in 2020, the Local Surf Lounge Academy, a non-profit company, is a haven for children from Vrygrond, Capricorn Park, Lavender Hill and other disadvantaged communities. Through the academy, the children can learn how to swim and surf, and they have free use of surfboards, wetsuits and the internet (for homework). The academy is also a place where they can have a shower, grab a meal and learn how to become surf coaches and contest judges.

Last year, the academy won the “recreation body of the year” award at the SA Sports Awards.

“Our youth are on the fringe. Many were begging in the parking lots of Surfers Corner until they joined the programme. Now they are surfers, not street children,” said academy founder Shuan Solomons.

However, the academy is going over the financial falls, according to Jamie Nye, from the Small Things Foundation, an NPO helping it with marketing and fund-raising to stop it closing.

“The lack of funds and the stress of meeting basic costs have been overwhelming,” he said.

According to Mr Nye, the academy relies solely on donations, and while all of its staff are unpaid volunteers, it needs about R15 000 a month to cover basic costs, including rent, electricity, and daily meals.

“We have a core group of about 14 boys who come almost daily. These are our consistent attendees, but the number can go up to 40 children during school holidays,” said Mr Nye. “Feeding them is a crucial aspect, and we provide them a daily meal around mid-afternoon, like a simple lunch even if it’s basic. However, due to challenging financial circumstances, we haven’t always been able to ensure a steady food supply.”

The academy was looking for people to sign up as monthly donors and donations of food – such as vegetables, canned goods, rice and tea – surf gear and toiletries would also be appreciated, he said.

All donations can be dropped off at African Soul Surfer at Surfers Corner.

“There could be a future South African champion or world champion that comes out of places like this. If we nurture that talent, we could create champions and create livelihoods for these children,” Mr Nye said.

He would also like to see the academy’s volunteer mentors paid small salaries.

One of the mentors, Masibulele Zozi, 23, shares a deep connection with the academy’s children.

“In my earlier years, I didn’t have everything handed to me. I had to work for it, and, at times, I even went to bed hungry. I remember skateboarding to Muizenberg just to find a meal, as there was no food at home,” he said.

“My purpose is to guide these kids along the right path, be a positive influence and serve as a role model. This academy is like a second home for all of us. Here, we share the joy of surfing, engage in fun activities, and function as a tight-knit family. I am committed to seeing this place continue to thrive and stay open for as long as it can.“

For more information, contact Jamie Nye at 076 118 3213 or email jamie@smallthingsfoundation.org.