Soul surfing heals spirits
LENNOX Head surfer Ben Dickens believes he has the best office in the Northern Rivers.
The 35-year-old spends up to 12 hours a day on the beach running his rehabilitation and high performance surf school.
The rehabilitation unit focuses on people suffering depression, alcoholism, anxiety and obesity.
“It’s all about helping people build confidence and I using surfing as the catalyst,” Mr Dickens said.
“I aim to help people with depression that are at risk of suicide.
“The Rubber Soul Boarding Co. has equipment that suits everyone and we can teach people anything from riding longboards to body surfing.”
In addition to working with high schools, Mr Dickens has his sights set on helping the indigenous community.
“There are a lot of talented indigenous kids in the area and for whatever reason surfing isn’t the most accessible thing for them,” he said.
“I think some people believe surfing is an exclusive sport and it shouldn’t be that way.
“I’ve visited areas like Coraki and taken kids out on boards in the Richmond River and they really enjoyed it.”
Dickens has coached surfing all over the world and has qualifications in training athletes with disabilities.
He also has experience coaching national surfing teams and is a professional lifeguard.
“I love my job,” he said.
“With the high performance unit I run, I try and focus on what the kids are doing away from the beach.
"If they are wagging school, or if their numeracy and literacy rates are down, I tell them to improve before they come back.
“You need an education as well as surfing, it doesn’t matter how good you are.
“I’ve seen blokes come off the pro tour and end up in rehab because they have no education to do anything else.”