Teens Break Barriers Through Surfing

The City Surf Project is breaking surfer stereotypes and helping teenagers gain confidence. 🏄✌️

Bringing Waves to the Youth

Surfers in the U.S. have a reputation as middle class and white. What if there was a slip-up in surfing’s genetic code? Beneath the community, decadence and carefree exterior is a deeply rooted corruption in a major strand of its cultural DNA that multiplied, through coding and replication, until it became an integral part of surfing. Nonprofit City Surf Project is smashing that stereotype, by teaching underrepresented teens how to surf and build confidence.

The average U.S. surfer is 34, has a college degree, and makes $75,000 a year based on data from a Surfrider survey. To make the sport more diverse, City Surf Project provides Bay Area high school students with equipment, transportation, and lessons. A lot of time is spent talking about beach segregation, which existed in the U.S. in its most fundamental form during the first half of the twentieth century. Although police sometimes enforced these rules, including an incident on Manhattan beach in which a black UCLA student was arrested for surfing too close to a white area, widespread compliance to “social restriction” practices and norms meant beaches were generally mono-colored.

Most students have little or no experience in the ocean before City Surf Project. City Surf Project partners with six public schools and teaches about 75 students per week. They also earn gym class credit for the surf lessons and many say it's a great break to the stresses of urban living. One of the values that in City Surf Project are respect for nature of personal growth and perseverance — just because you fall off the board one time doesn't mean it's all over. You just get back on it and get ready to do it again.