Surfshack tells stories of triumph through eyes of vulnerable children

Posted: August 7, 2015

Surfshack screenshotA striking series of ads for the non-profit organisation, Surfshack Surf Outreach, offers an arresting look into the stories of vulnerable children in the Cape Flats – and how surfing gave them hope.

The surf school’s outreach programme was introduced in 2005, when founder David Chudleigh realised that the sport of surfing was attractive to at-risk children. He explains: “Children that grow up in areas where drug abuse, crime and violence are prevalent, often feel a need to belong. We wanted to create an environment where they could become part of a positive community, bound by their love of the ocean.”

A few years down the line, the Surfshack Surf Outreach centre offers sports, academic and creative arts programmes to assist with the holistic development of children who face adverse childhood experiences.

To communicate the details around the Surfshack Surf Outreach to potential volunteers and sponsors, the school and Y&R South Africa set out to create a campaign that would illustrate how individual stories of tragedy were transformed into stories of triumph.

“We conceptualised ads featuring real children and their authentic stories, but protected their identities,” says Graham Lang, Chief Creative Officer of Y&R South Africa. “We designed the type to expose the photography just enough for the reader to peer into the eyes of the portrait and get a glimpse of what they saw,” he adds.

The resulting ‘True Stories’ campaign features four executions, titled ‘Salt heals all wounds’, ‘The sea teaches you to stand up for yourself’, ‘The cure for addiction is another addiction’, and ‘It took an ocean to dissolve her anger

For more information about the Surfshack Surf Outreach programme, visit the website at

Y&R South Africa Team Credits:

Chief Creative Officer: Graham Lang
Agency Art Directors: Michael van der Meer and Rowan Foxcroft
Copywriter: Patrick Robertson
Art Buyer: Ashleigh Hamilton
Photographer: Jan Verboom