'Rewarding': San Francisco nonprofit teaches students life lessons through surfing

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- While most Bay Area students are dealing with the everyday challenges of distance learning, some students are taking a detour from zoom classes and waxing up their surfboards. All for a program that's introducing city kids to surfing the waves and a lot more. It's a program that's helping to build a Better Bay Area.

14-year-old Monica Sanchez is stoked to be living a Beach Boys song, wearing a wetsuit and "hanging ten" on a surfboard during school hours.

"It's crazy being online school on zoom, being in the ocean surfing gets my mind off of school," said Sanchez

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Monica and seven of classmates from Leadership High School in San Francisco are at Lindamar Beach in Pacifica learning how to hang loose.

"Yes, I'm gonna surf today, going to catch all the waves," said Rosamay Martinez.

Students are getting school P.E. credit for the six-week program, made possible by nonprofit City Surf Project, now partnering with public schools. All equipment and instruction is totally free.

Co-founder Johnny Irwin is a former high school teacher, and longtime surfer who wanted to provide more students with equitable access to the sport.

"Growing up in the San Francisco surf scene, it was White male, upper class, and that a lot of people who hadn't gone surfing could benefit from the sport," Irwin said.

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We talked to Bay Area teachers and school officials about virtual learning struggles and what they're doing to make classwork more robust this fall.

Trevon Boykin is a City Surf Project alumni, who now teaches other students to surf.

"To see them experience what I experienced for the first time is really rewarding," said Boykin.

For many this unique course is about more than just learning how to surf. It's about building self-confidence.

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"If I go out there and say I'm going to do it and don't be afraid of the water, boom, I got it!" said Leadership High School student Rosamay Martinez.

Look out, these amateur surfers are getting good, and could turn pro one of these days.

For more information on the program, visit City Surf Project's website here.

See more stories and videos about Building a Better Bay Area here.

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