On Friday 23 March, GirlsGetOutThere NZ hosts a North Shore “Fluro Friday”, meeting at 6.30am at Takapuna Beach Café for coffee and chat, before heading to the water by the boat ramp by 7am for photos at sunrise.
Girls Get Out There’s SJ (Sarah-Jane Cansdale) says the event is part of an international non-profit surf community initiative that raises awareness of mental health.
The event was started by OneWave in Australia, with a simple recipe: saltwater therapy, surfing and fluro. From modest beginnings at Bondi Beach in March 2013, Fluro Fridays have since gone viral with sessions held at more than 100 beaches globally, from California and Hawaii, to Mexico, the UK, New Zealand, Bali, India, Samoa and Fiji. The aim is to raise awareness for mental health by surfing/paddling in fluorescent gear to draw attention to and get people talking about mental health issues, a topic which is all too often avoided.
SJ endorses OneWave’s founder Grant Trebilco, who says: “Bright colours make people happy and help start conversations about an invisible issue. Combine that with surfing and it is a great recipe to help free the funk.”
Grant grew up in Mount Maunganui and has personally experienced mental health challenges. “When I was diagnosed with bipolar five years ago, it was surfing with my family and my mates back home at The Mount that helped me the most. Sometimes, one wave really is all it takes. I want anyone experiencing mental health issues to have the opportunity to experience how good it feels to get in the ocean and catch a wave.”
GirlsGetOuTthere NZ has been supporting Fluro Friday and OneWave events over the last three years. “Stand-up paddle boarding is great social fun, and there are many benefits for physical health and mental health in being on the water with friends,” says SJ. She’s thrilled that GirlsGetOutThere is part of the international movement to normalise mental health issues by helping people understand they are not alone and that it’s ok not to be ok.
“We’re aiming to be part of a fluoro wave across 20 countries and 65 beaches,” she says. “All it takes is two or more people dressed in fluoro and holding hands on the shoreline.”
SJ says anyone is welcome, and she’d like to encourage as many people as possible to join her. “Show your support for our friends, family and the community, and help remove the stigma attached to mental health. Come and paddle your SUP, kayak, surfboard, or even floatie. Walk on the beach, chat, swim and splash about in fluoro.”
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