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“I feel happy when I surf because it takes stress from my mind”: An Initial Exploration of Program Theory within Waves for Change Surf Therapy in Post-Conflict Liberia

Marshall, Jamie; Ferrier, Brendon; Ward, Phil; Martindale, Russell


Phil Ward


Surf therapy is a novel form of sport for development (SFD) intervention being utilized to support well-being within post-conflict settings. There is currently little research exploring surf therapy program theory in SFD contexts. Theoretical exploration is important for optimization, monitoring, and further expansion of service delivery. This research utilized pragmatic qualitative methods to explore participant-perceived impacts and outcomes within the Waves for Change (W4C) surf therapy intervention, as implemented in Harper, Liberia, that aims to support youth well-being. Twenty-three past W4C participants (17 males and 6 females, mean age = 15.8 years, SD = 3.6 years, range 11-25 years) took part in semistructured interviews about their experiences of surf therapy. Data were analyzed through constant comparative analysis. Six impacts and outcomes were identified within three intervention domains: Social, Skills Curriculum/Bananas Culture, and Surfing. The findings highlight sport as an adaptable vehicle for improving well-being and skills within successful intervention delivery while providing a foundation for further in-depth exploration of program theory. Furthermore, the findings provide empirical evidence on how to optimize and proliferate surf therapy within other post-conflict settings. The findings also provide transferable conclusions for the improvement of SFD more generally.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 30, 2020
Publication Date 2020-10
Deposit Date Nov 20, 2020
Publicly Available Date Dec 8, 2020
Journal Journal of Sport for Development
Electronic ISSN 2330-0574
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 1
Keywords qualitative research; sport for development; well-being; program theory; surf therapy
Public URL
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“I Feel Happy When I Surf Because It Takes Stress From My Mind”: An Initial Exploration Of Program Theory Within Waves For Change Surf Therapy In Post-Conflict Liberia (published version) (927 Kb)

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