Every summer, hundreds of kids from troubled neighborhoods in Los Angeles learn to surf as they enjoy the sun, sand and ocean at local beaches, thanks to a program called L.A. Surf Bus.
The program is run by a nonprofit created in 2003 by Mary Setterholm, a former national surfing champion. Setterholm (shown here, at right, guiding 14-year-old Veronica Lopez on a surfboard) established the nonprofit to help inner-city kids learn to surf, practice water-safety measures and develop a love for the ocean.
L.A. Surf Bus transports groups of youngsters each day from June through August to area beaches. Each participant spends at least two full weeks at “surf camp,” working one-on-one with an instructor who helps the child gain confidence in the water.
Prior to this experience, many of the program’s participants had never seen the ocean before, despite living near some of the most beautiful beaches in the United States, said instructor Marion Clark, 32, who’s been surfing since age 19. Clark runs the nonprofit, known as the Surf Bus Foundation, and she is also the daughter of its founder, Setterholm.
The program gives kids an alternative to gangs and violence, according to Clark. When kids get off the streets and into the ocean, “their lives expand beyond their neighborhood,” Clark said.
To learn more about the L.A. Surf Bus program, visit the Surf Bus Foundation website.