It was one of those “AH HAH!” moments. I was walking on the beach, trying to figure out my next career move. I had earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, but after spending time in the classroom, I soon learned it wasn’t the right fit for me. Being born in Southern California, I carried on a love affair with the beach and the deep blue ocean. Walking along the sand I thought, how can I capitalize on combining the two things I love most, the beach and teaching children? Even though teaching in a classroom wasn’t for me, I loved kids and I knew that teachers and counselors made the world of a difference in the children they taught. I knew teachers and counselors had conversations with students that were memorable and character shaping. I knew that the time spent at a camp or after school program needed to be with the right mentor for children to feel safe, happy, and inspired. So at that moment, I knew I had to combine the two elements in some way.
Being at a time in my life when I felt unsure about my future, I booked a surf trip to Costa Rica for inspiration. There among the ocean, rain forest and best food of my life, I experienced a very different lifestyle than that of the people living in the United States. In the Costa Rican culture, people spend their days outside and there is a large sense of togetherness and community. Their education is sadly secondary to other responsibilities, but the trip was a life lesson, on seeing how the water has created and maintained their lives. The community revolved around the water, the waves and made for a simple life of happiness, friendship and community. I had to add this feeling of togetherness to my big idea.
So, I purposefully brought back part of the Costa Rican culture to Los Angeles, for myself and for the girls who are growing up so quickly in our overstimulated society. Sand Sisters Los Angeles was born. I wanted to form a place where girls can simplify, be themselves and their best selves, gain confidence through water sports and empower each other. I started by taking one girl to the beach to surf and stand up paddle board and that has grown to become a beach camp in Playa Del Rey. From there it has grown to be an after school enrichment class in independent schools, a public class with the City of Santa Monica and Sand Sisters Saturdays. Sand Sisters Saturdays are a great opportunity for any girl in the LA community to come spend the day with us at the beach, hiking, in the music studio, or in an art studio. Every class is themed with a positive word of the day and a craft that follows the word. Some words we love to use are respect, inspire, trust, grateful, explore and health.
A year ago my sister came onboard, so the meaning has changed. The name once stood for “sisters” that meet at the beach and do camp like activities, but now it also means that we are the “Sand Sisters.” Two strong women developing a curriculum to change our youth. Two sisters fighting the odds and giving girls a place to show up and be greeted with a hug and know that they are loved and they are wanted. When these girls feel our sense of community at a class or event their spirits soar and their physical and mental health is top notch.
Visit our website at www.sandsistersla.com for our program details and community events!
This article was published by BOOST in May 2015.