For some, surfing is a sport, a hobby, and even an art form. For kids in the West Indies, surfing is a luxury.
There isn’t much of a surf scene in the region, but it’s not uncommon to see kids in the ocean playing on rafts made out of wooden planks or styrofoam chunks, said Andrew Everson, owner of 757 Surfboards in Virginia Beach.
To make surfing more accessible for some of those kids, Everson and his surf shop co-owner Robert Seatherton are working to raise funds for surfboards, body boards, and equipment to ship across the Caribbean to their island of Grenada.
Seatherton currently lives in Grenada, and brought the cause to Everson’s attention in late November.
“I came up with the idea while surfing out here. Anytime we’re out, kids will come and join us, crawl all over our surfboards, and ask us to have a go,” Seatherton said.
The group of about half a dozen kids live right next to the ocean, but don’t have the money to spend on flotation equipment, according to Seatherton.
“Their houses are quite literally on a cliff right over the water, held up by rickety wooden poles,” he said. “Despite money being limited, they laugh uncontrollably and have free run to enter the water when they want. They’re out swimming any time the shore breaks.”
“I really think that by getting them boards and teaching them to surf we could bring a new sport to the island,” he added.
To generate the funds and donations needed, the two started a GoFundMe page, and have spread the word on social media about their efforts.
In addition to money for boards, Everson said they’re also accepting donations of board wax, surf leashes, rash guards, surfing magazines, posters, and other accessories.
The duo are about a quarter of the way to their $2,000 goal, and hope to generate additional support this Saturday during a fundraising event at Chichos Pizza on 29th Street, where they will be raffling off free surf lessons and a custom surfboard.
“It’s really cool to have the opportunity to do this and give the kids another way to connect with the ocean,” Everson said. “I have been obsessed with surfing from a young age. I really want to show people a piece of my world.”
In addition to sharing a love for surfing, Seatherton said he hopes to bring the kids a greater appreciation for the environment they live in.
“Surfing has taken me around the world. It has introduced me to some of my closest friends and has taught me about science and the environment,” he said. “I truly believe it can do the same for others and I hope to bring some of the same experiences to these kids.”
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