By Ellen Zoe Golden Photo courtesy Surf 4 Youth
Four years ago, when former national surf champion Andrea Diaz was looking for a way to give back to her community here in Tamarindo, she founded Surf 4 Youth.
The goal has always been to encourage, develop and support Tamarindo area youth using surfing, education and spirituality as tent poles.
Recently, Molly and Scott Dawson from Cincinnati became involved in the program. Philanthropists with a long history of good works, they joined the board of directors, added valuable insight and handson experience that has been able to help more kids achieve greater things.
Mike Hartman is the biggest sponsor through the Hartman Foundation.
The primary members of Surf 4 Youth are about 40 underprivileged kids who might not otherwise get opportunities to surf due to lack of equipment and training.
With Surf 4 Youth, many ride donated surfboards, parents of the community volunteer their time, while Diaz herself provides land-based exercise and in-water physical training and takes everybody who wants to weekly yoga at Mermaids & Sailors Yoga.
The S4Y Club is the core of the group, where young children to the age of 18 take part in all of the activities. In order to participate in the surf part of the program, Díaz emphasizes the importance of education: the kids must attend school, and do the work.
Rewards for academic achievement include trips to various surf contests around the country. About 20 kids are on the elite team.
“We want to teach perseverance, determination we want them to understand that if you work hard for things there’s going to be a result. We are based on education, not surfing,–we don’t necessarily have the best surfers—but we have the strongest, most determined leaders in our community. We’re trying to teach them that everything is possible, that you can dream and they will come true if you do the work and you have the commitment and are accountable and responsible.”
Last month, Díaz organized a Surf 4 Youth contest in Tamarindo to show the strength of the organization and to thank sponsors who have supported them for the last four years.
Approximately 74 kids signed up, and they were judged in the categories of Dolphins, Groms, Girls, Boys, Junior, and TagTeam.
The event was free for everyone to register and some pros were on hand in Tamarindo to help the kids including Carlos and Alberto Muñoz, Isaac Vega, Tomas King, Federico Pilurzu and Anthony Fillingim.