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The objective of the project was to provide training and resources to 3 community youth leaders to support their work in providing weekly surf classes to over 150 Afro-Colombian youth on the Pacific coast of Colombia.
The training was to equip them to be leaders in their communities and to impart their knowledge to young surfers in their communities in a safe and secure environment. A secondary objective the purchase of a small boat so that the trainers will be able to travel to nearby villages that are only accessible by boat and take their classes to more young children of Chocó.
A further outcome of the training and purchase of the boat was to allow the local surfers to generate income by offering surf related services to tourists.
On 30 December Nestor Tello, Piter Valencia and Santiago Mosquera travelled from their village of Termales to Lima, the capital of Peru. In Lima the President of Peruvian Surfing Federation hosted them. For the first 4 days they completed work experience at the Latin Surf School. Working as surf instructors they gained experience teaching tourists the basics of surfing. They also learnt the behind the scenes challenges of running a surf school such as pricing lessons and board rental, maintaining equipment and providing good client service.This work contributed the mandatory 20 hours of work experience that is necessary to earn the ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor certification.
Following the days of work experience they then spent a day with professional surfer Anali Gomez. Anali shared her knowledge and experience of what it takes to forge a career in surfing. Anali has previously visited the surf club in Termales and this was a valuable opportunity to strengthen that relationship and learn from one of the best female surfers. The remainder of the trip was dedicated to completing the Lifesaving and First Aid courses run by the Peruvian Surfing Federation.
The course was attended by around 20 other young Peruvian surfers and lifesavers. It was a great opportunity for our young trainers to not only learn an invaluable skill and a mandatory component of the ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor course but to also mix with young surfers from Peru. The Peruvians were surprised to see surfers from Colombia and were amazed to here about the story of the Chocó Surf Club. The course was intense and the first day was physically demanding with a lot of fitness work. The course covered areas such as rescuing a person in the water with and without a board, resuscitation, reading beach conditions and basic first aid.
The course was completed with a written exam and a physical test. All three of our instructors passed their tests and finished in the top 5 in each category. We are extremely proud of these results. Furthermore, having completed the 20 hours of work experience and the lifesaving and first aid courses our young trainers are now the first ever, and the only, certified surf instructors in Colombia. This is a massive achievement. The young trainers returned to Colombia on the 10th of December with lots of new knowledge, friendships and stories.
On the 28th of December they organised an end of year Surf Festival to celebrate their return but also to present the new boat to the Club members and share their stories and new knowledge with all the young surfers. Using the new boat they visited 3 of the local communities and transported members of the Club back to Termales for the Festival and then transported everybody home at night. Around 170 boys and girls attended the event plus a large number of parents. The event was a major success and the first time that the Club has been able to incorporate all of the surfers into one event thanks to the transport that the boat provides.
Now that surf classes have resumed the instructors are incorporating what they learned on their courses into the daily classes. Safety lessons are now being included along with the basics of how to read the beach and how to paddle and stand up for the youngest members. The young instructors were surprised about how seriously safety was taken in Peru and they have made it a priority to get their club up to the same standard.
The local community, particularly the local Mayor has begun to support the Club in a more tangible way since the trip to Peru. For the Festival in December the Mayor provided free gasoline for the boat and also money to buy refreshments for all the surf club members.
Additionally, the 3 instructors have been invited to participate in a Government-to-Government project between Colombia and Costa Rica to improve the surf industry in the Municipality of Nuqui where Termales is located. This will involve an exchange program between Nuqui in Colombia and Jaco in Costa Rica. We believe this will be a real game changer for the region and thanks to the training our instructors have received in Peru they will be at the forefront of this change and best positioned to take advantage of the work opportunities that will come from this.
Finally, with the addition of the motorboat the surf club is preparing to receive tourists during the next tourist season, which begins around May 2017. This will allow them to begin to generate income using their surfing knowledge and skills.
The 3 instructors are now keen to complete their level 2 Surf Instructor qualifications and also complete the Surf Judges course. On a local level they are committed to expanding their surf classes to include more young surfers from Chocó and spread the benefits of surfing to a wider audience in Chocó. Having had such amazing experiences through surfing they want others in their communities to experience the same.
The Club would love to host you. You would have to commit to taking surf classes though, but that would be our shout of course!
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