My name is Josh and I’m a surf instructor from Siargao Island in the Philippines. I have a deep love for both surfing and for my community. Siargao is very beautiful and I am thankful to call it home but unfortunately, we have many social issues here in the Philippines. School attendance by children is one of them. Everyone comes to Siargao to surf, escape, and enjoy a moment in paradise. Because of this, there is a very strong and influential surf culture. Over the years, I have observed that surfing has become more of a priority for kids than going to school. Even I used to skip school to work for my neighbor and as a payment, he would loan me his board.
In developing countries, poor school attendance and lack of education are huge barriers to a future free of poverty. Sure, you may be able to surf, but you can’t feed your family or afford healthcare. And so I created a way to use surfing to keep kids in school. Grom Nation is a non-profit that motivates the local kids to participate in their education. Groms with 90 percent school attendance and over plus satisfactory grades and attitude have access to surf lessons, coaching, surfboard rentals, and skate workshops. Top achievers have the opportunity to participate in grom comps. Currently, we have over 100 surfboards, with over 200 kids participating. We use this opportunity to engage the kids and mentor them in respect, responsibility and readiness to learn. Additionally, we run life skills workshops to build self-esteem and increase employability.
We use surfing as a mechanism to build trust with groms on the island, educating them about the dangers of gambling and drug and alcohol abuse, among other things. We also run girl-focused workshops on body positivity and self-esteem along with mental and physical health campaigns for all groms. Helping the kids in my community through surfing has become my passion. I am grateful to be able to help guide the groms of Siargao into a future full of opportunity.
Editor’s Note: You can contact Grom Nation Siragao at firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved or just learn more. Follow Grom Nation on Instagram.