Misión México’s surf program

Where it all began….

Among the enormous daily challenges to stay afloat and knowing that the children, who have suffered terribly, need different outlets to help rebuild their confidence and their general trust in the world, Alan and Pam decided to apply their combined skills to teach the children water safety, swimming, and of course – surfing!

Surfing began in 2003 when a couple of ‘nipper’ rescue boards and rescue tubes were donated by the Sunshine Beach Surf Life Saving Club and the children were given lessons by Alan and two of his sons, Rohan and Aaron Skuse.

In 2004 the surfing really surged when a couple of volunteers kindly donated their time to teach the children. Alan then began serious surf lessons with the boards the volunteers had organized for the children.

surfing back in the day with first boards.jpg

Norm and Veronica Innes; Norm, ex GM of Quiksilver International, previously the Director of The Noosa Festival of Surfing and currently chairman of Surfing Australia, became involved with Misión México in early 2007 when three of Mision Mexico’s children came to Australia on scholarships to learn English, swimming and surf life saving. Via Norm’s foundation donations have been provided that assist Misión México’s overall strategy of getting more children in the water.

In 2007 thanks to the financial support of the Innis Charitable foundation, and with surf board donations by Global Surf, the dream of Misión Surf was born.

Surfboard sponsor found….

As a result of Norm Innes’ connections in the surfing world, the kids received a shipment of 17 boards from supplier Global Surf Industries (GSI) in 2007 to help their surfing program.

Mexico Surfers.jpgThe company mantra for GSI is “life is better when you surf?, so the alignment with their internal values along with their commitment to support surfing related charities was spot on. GSI sent a second shipment of 20 boards to the children in 2009 and in 2010 pro-surfer Cheyne Cottrell and Brian Noell, from the US, visited the children and gave them some surf lessons which the children thoroughly enjoyed!

As a result of this kind of support, many of the kids from the Misión México family are now seriously carving up the waters near Tapachula in the same way that many other grommets do around all corners of the globe. As you can imagine, there is more work to do here to make this all happen and keep the surfing program, along with many other basic programs, an ongoing part of the kids lives.

Why develop a surfing program….

Misión Surf México introduces disadvantaged children to surfing as a lifestyle. It helps them find confidence in themselves and a belief that they can achieve anything they want to. The children love surfing and recognise the impactit has on their lives.

Beach/swimming/surf education is minimal in Mexican communities, and initially when Pam and Alan arrived, the children at Misión México didn’t know how to swim. With Alan and Pam’s inherent knowledge of living at the beach, they taught, and continue to teach, the children to swim and surf. The beaches in Tapachula are not considered ‘pretty’, with dark sand and murky water, in actual fact no-one else surfs there. There are no life guards at the beach in Tapachula, and it’s not uncommon to see the children from Misión México rescuing people from the water.

surf life saving certification Qld 2007.jpgSurfing is a previously unknown activity in this part of Mexico, yet it has become a uniquely transforming activity for the children, helping them forget their pasts and dream of better futures.

“When I surf, I don’t have to think about anything except the waves. Not my past, not drugs, not anything. There is nothing like it.?
Jose, 21.

You can find out more about how surfing is changing these young people’s lives in our documentary, Somewhere Near Tapachula.

Want to know how our older children are benefiting from the programme? Find out about our Mision Surf work training program.

Donate to our work training program