Valentin (Val) Blanot delights in evaluating and manipulating market data in his day job as OnDeck’s Lead Marketing Analyst. However, once a week during the recent summer, the French-born surfing enthusiast hit the waves at Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach to support the Waves Of Wellness (WOW) surf therapy course.
WOW is a charitable organisation, which promotes a range of programs such as the 6-week Sand n ‘Surf course, as well as WOW Surfing Experience (WOWSE), an eight-week learn-to-surf program for groups of people experiencing mental health issues.
Val explains, “Sand n ‘Surf is a surf therapy program that enables participants to make friends, learn about wellbeing, and focus on being the best version of themselves – all while learning to surf.
“The program addresses the fact that we all struggle with ups and downs at times, and this is a way of chatting about wellness in a safe space.”
The early bird catches the wave
The Sand&Surf program starts with a 6.15 am ‘meet and greet’, where participants suit up and choose their boards. “From 6.30 am, we sit on Bondi Beach in a circle and share our views about a series of topics.
“One week it might be wellbeing, the next week it’s self-esteem, coping with stress and on it goes for six weeks,” explains Val, who is not a therapist. “The groups have trained facilitators who are social workers or occupational therapist.”
After the truth sessions, the group hits the waves from 7 – 8 am with the support of a professional surfing instructor and mentors such as Val. “I help people to get better at surfing for an hour.”
On a personal level, Sand n ‘Surf allows Val an opportunity to build relationships with 8-10 people he would never normally meet. “At the beginning, you must break the ice, but by the final week you know everyone much better,” he says. “I got involved in 2017 through a friend who told me Sand n ‘Surf needed surfing mentors. The program has also taught me wellbeing techniques that I now use myself.”
Val continues, “Surfing is a fantastic way to start the day – and when I arrive at work at OnDeck, I have a smile on my face all day.”
Underlining OnDeck’s reputation as “Great Workplace”, Val’s manager Oliver Wade, Head of Marketing & Partnerships champions his endeavours with WOW. “Ollie is very happy with me supporting the program and men’s health, and he allows me the time each week to attend the surfing sessions.”
Prepared by OnDeck Capital Australia Pty Ltd ABN 28 603 753 215 (“OnDeck”) for general information purposes only. Content may reference or have originated from third parties and OnDeck takes no responsibility for the accuracy, validity, reliability or completeness of any information. Information current as at February 2020. OnDeck® is a Registered Trademark. All rights reserved.