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Surfing and Mental Health - An Interview with Kaylee Duncanson of OneWave Newport Beach




Many of us Wahines use surfing as an outlet - we can likely all agree that physical activity, environment, and the surf community itself are beneficial to our mental health. Many of us also joined Wahine Kai in the hopes to find other’s who share our interests – so we aren’t alone each time we paddle out. But often surfers and non-surfers alike, struggle with their mental health – whether it’s stress, depression, anxiety, we can sometimes feel alone. Kaylee Duncanson – a member of Wahine Kai, has tackled this issue by starting the Newport Beach chapter of OneWave. OneWave Newport Beach holds biweekly sunrise sessions called “Free the Funk Friday,” to raise awareness for mental health. Everyone is welcome, and it’s a free event! Please join OneWave Newport Beach at Blackies - Tower 22, for "Free the Funk Friday" on Friday, September 27th, 2019 @ 6:30AM to celebrate the end of the season! Be sure to bring some friends, wear some neon, and get ready to free that funk!


Explain to the readers the idea behind OneWave and Free the Funk Fridays

One Wave (or more formally One Wave Is All It Takes) is a non profit surf community tackling the issues surrounding mental health with their recipe of saltwater, surfing, and bright neon colors. The organization was started in Australia by Grant Trebilco, in 2013. One Wave aims to bring awareness to mental health and create a space where people know that it is ok to not be ok, that everyone struggles in their own ways, and it’s ok to talk to your community about it.


Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you became involved with OneWave.

I am an Orange County local and have always been a water person but have really only been surfing for the last 6-7 years. Surfing and the ocean is my happy place and I have always thought of it as a form of therapy for myself. Which is why when I happened upon One Wave I fell in love with the message behind the organization.

At the time I found One Wave I was in a dark place after a pretty tough break up and surfing was one of the only things that could make me feel ok and normal for a bit. When I went to my first One Wave event in San Diego it was a mix of emotions of relieve, validation, community, gratitude and so much more. I felt I could be heard, unjudged, and also listen and support the community around me in everything that they were experiencing. One of the hardest parts about dealing with mental health is thinking no one else will understand or that you are alone in it, when honestly everyone deals with varying issues. I didn’t know of anything like that up in Orange County so I thought “screw it, I’m gonna start one!” and here we are today with the Newport Beach Chapter of One Wave!


How has the Newport Beach/OC community reacted since you started Free the Funk Fridays?

I am lucky in that I have gotten nothing but positive feedback from the community that has heard of or joined our Newport group. We are still a small group and not as vocal as some of the other older chapters, but it is rewarding to see the people that come take something away from the experience each week. It can be hard to open up to strangers, I totally understand that, so even people that want to just come and listen can take something away from it too. It can be hard to break down the barrier of always saying “I’m fine” and moving along, but simply knowing that you are not alone in your everyday struggles can be very helpful to the members that join us.


What is your favorite part about being involved in OneWave?

Uh, everything?! In all honesty though, I walk away feeling so rewarded every group meet up that people were able to hopefully get something they needed out of the organization and get out in the water. All I ever want to do is spread the love I have for the ocean and surfing because it has had a tremendously positive effect on my life, so I always hope I can facilitate that for another person. It is incredibly rewarding each week to see people breath a sigh of relief and say “ahh, I feel so much better” after talking and surfing, so seeing that reaction or feeling is one of my favorite parts of each session.


Any advice or anything you’d like to share with fellow WK members?

The only advice that I can give to the group from me and the whole One Wave community is to go through life knowing that it is ok to not be ok, know you are not alone, and to reach out to friends and family if you need help. I know everyone reading this is most likely a water baby themselves and knows that the ocean has some amazing healing effects, but just a reminder that that is something we can all turn to in rough times as well. If you or anyone you know would like to be a part of our One Wave community please feel free to reach out over any of our social media pages (IG: @OneWave_NewportBeach; or on Facebook at One Wave Newport Beach), we would love to have you join us! Also for more information on the non profit and Grant’s story, please check out http://www.onewaveisallittakes.com.

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