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Jack, Lisa and Murray are just 3 HASI (Housing & Accommodation Support Initiative) participants who took part in an 8-week group session run in partnership with Ulladulla Surf School ‘Walking on Water’.

The group met at Narrawallee beach every Friday with their HASI support workers, surf instructors, equipment and lifesavers to ride the waves and regain some balance on more than just a board.

Jack had enjoyed bodyboarding when he was a kid and as he got older, after being hospitalised for his mental health, he was looking for ways to stabilise his mood again. He says reconnecting with the ocean and nature were a big part of his wellness goals and link in with his desire to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

For Murray, surfing was an old passion of his too. Having support and peers to get back out there has helped him come out of his shell over the past couple of months: “He has gone from being someone who would barely look up to say hello, to someone who comes out of the surf with a smile from ear to ear and a few stories to tell,” said Head Coach Simon. Murray fondly remembers traveling to Bali to surf and describes sitting on his board while riding around on a scooter, surfing seems to reconnect him to that person and has helped him find joy again.

While Lisa hadn’t been a surfer in the past, she has embraced the activity as a chance to try something new, get outside of her comfort zone and grow confidence in the outdoors. Like the others, she enjoys the time spent together afterwards talking and sharing a meal.

Each week they discuss a new topic inspired by the ocean, sometimes its about the relentless waves of life that seem to keep coming and can feel overwhelming but when you get through each set you can feel proud that you made it and comforted with the knowledge that you can do it again next time. Other times they reflect on the fresh air, breathing and the motion of the ocean – where the old makes way for the new.

HASI Support Worker Allen says it’s been a rewarding experience:

“There is something special about being together with people who understand what you are going through, helping each other grow and gaining a fresh outlook on life.”

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