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Puerto Vallarta • Riviera Nayarit 

Surf's UP for Local Girls Thanks to Wahine Project
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August 26, 2012

The Bay of Banderas was hit by a different kind of wave with the Wahine Project hitting the north shores this week and making its mark.

The Wahine Project is an educational program for girls between the ages of 7 and 17. The girls are exposed to a carefully planned schedule of surf lesson, surf excursions, lectures and field trips, balanced with physical conditioning and ocean recreation activities.

Originating in California, the Wahine Project has been coming to the Nayarit area of the Bay of Banderas to work with local girls for the past 2 years.

They are on their first ever "South Swell" campaign, in which they have travelled down the California Coast from their home in Monterrey Bay, all the way to the Bay of Banderas.

Founder of the organization, Dionne Ybarra, has several close friends in the Bay and has been visiting the Sayulita area for years. Through her local contacts, she was able to connect with local organizations like PEACE and entreAmigos, which led to conducting surf clinics with the local girls.

The project started off small, with 3 day workshops manned by volunteers from the area, local surf shops donating boards and getting the word out on the street in the small communities of Punta de Mita and San Pancho.

But word spread quickly and those small workshops became a bit larger, a bit more organized and a bit more promoted.

Soon the girls of Wahine Project in California were collecting bathing suits for their surfer friends in Mexico, sending letters, making care packages, and fundraising, so that their teachers could help them "spread the love" south of the border.

The Wahine Project was created in an effort to reach young girls around the world who would otherwise not have access to the resources that would allow them to surf. Whether geographical, financial or lack of opportunity, the organization seeks to break down the barriers that prevent the participation of young girls in the sport of surfing and provide them the opportunity to not only become proficient surfers but as a result of surfing, increase their awareness to their global citizenship.

Through education, outreach and travel, young girls will be provided opportunities that will give them a sense of social responsibility that surfing uniquely provides. The experience these girls walk away with is priceless.

They are able to read letters from girls in California who are just like them, write letters and messages to young girls in the Philippines or the Gaza Strip who are also trying to learn to surf and just don't have the same opportunities their male peers do. The young girls also bond closely with the adult women who are not only their instructors but who also provide a healthy example of "girl power."

And, to top it all off, local professional photographers Jill Mitchell and Kiersten Rowland have been documenting these clinics over the past several years and donating their time and images to the organizations involved. The girls have become iconized forever in beautiful imagery and can never get enough of seeing themselves on camera!

I am Wahine
I am the very essence of being a girl
We share what we have
Our humanity is caught up in one another
I am a Wahine because I belong, I participate, I share
A Wahine is Open, Available, and Affirming to others
We do not feel threatened because other Wahines are able and good
I have self assurance and I feel bad when others are hurt
We may just start a chain reaction.

To learn more about the Wahine Project, visit their website.

  Learn more about Peace Punta de Mita

  Learn more about entreAmigos San Francisco

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