The San Francisco Bay Area is a region under constant economic and social stress. Skyrocketing property values and an influx of highly paid tech talent are forcing locals out, and gentrification is ramping up the pressure on already troubled, underprivileged neighborhoods. Since 2014, the City Surf program has worked to bring children from these areas through the city to the Pacific Ocean, teaching them how to surf as a way to combat the frustration and challenges of their day-to-day lives.
Founder Johnny Irwin started the organization after years as a teacher at Leadership High School in San Francisco. "There are so many boundaries for their success," he says of the kids in his program. "If they can succeed in surfing, they can use that in school, in their careers, in their social life."
Through surfing, they can escape the trauma and stress of urban life and open up new worlds of nature and self-esteem they've never experienced before. As one student said, "A wave to me is like a problem. Surfing is dealing with it."
Watch the video above, detailing City Surf's efforts, and click here for more information.