Checking in with Chris Dennis, Founder of Waves for Hope, Trinidad.
If success is measured in a life lived with passion, Chris Dennis would be considered a Grand Master. Growing up in the remote hillsides of the rural village Balandra, on the island Nation of Trinidad, Chris exceeded nearly all expectations by becoming one of the country's first professional surfers and competing on the world circuit representing his homeland on the global surfing stage. But perhaps his greatest victories have come from outside of the jersey, creating Waves for Hope In 2019, a non- profit offering youth development programs that utilize surfing, group discussion and mentorship to empower and provide positive psychology education to at-risk youths in under-served communities across Trinidad & Tobago.
Through the reflection of his own personal struggles as a youth growing up in Trinidad, Chris began to recognize many similar challenges that continue to face the next generations emerging from his homeland. “Trinidad and Tobago have two very different sides, on one hand you have a beautiful country that is filled with beautiful beaches and great people. On the other side is a lot of darkness also. Crime, a lot of poverty. A lot of suffering,” Chris says.
“Surfing has literally been one of the biggest motivational tools for kids from the coast in Trinidad and Tobago."
"It offers youths a space where they can go get creative. They have an opportunity to also push themselves and experience something different.”
One of the clear barriers for entering the water in this remote region just off the coast of Venezuela has always been a lack of access to surf equipment. In 2019, the PVW Foundation was able to donate over 200 used surfboards in support of Chris’ Waves For Hope non- profit. Equipment that has allowed for the access point towards a greater human connection. It is through bringing people together around the water where Chris and program mentors meet with the local youth once a week for meditation and surf therapy sessions. But Waves for Hope Trinidad’s efforts are now growing beyond the beach, currently building a homework center and their very own skate park at the Waves for Hope facilities in hopes of expanding their outreach within the local communities.
Chris is a brilliant example of a leader within his community, whose own personal pursuit for wave riding has grown into a greater calling of empathy and compassion towards all of humanity. It’s this mentorship that grows deep roots, creating a strong foundation for the generations ahead as they navigate the challenges and joys of life. When asked about advice for others looking to set up their own community support systems, Chris’ advice is simple:
“Be kind and be patient. Genuine in all of your actions with no agendas.”
Of all the waves Chris has pursued over the course of his life, Waves for Hope may just be his greatest ride yet…
The PVW Foundation has supported Waves for Hope Trinidad since 2019 and are currently contributing through the donation of our PVW Softboards in support of their surf therapy programs.
About Waves For Hope:
Waves for Hope offers youth development programs that utilize surfing, group discussion and mentorship to empower and provide positive psychology education to at-risk youths in under-served communities across Trinidad & Tobago.
Their mission is to improve the physical, emotional and mental well-being of young people. We provide a safe space, caring mentors, the fun activity of surfing and evidence-based exercises to build healthy relationships, develop coping skills and improve confidence and self-esteem.
Chris, and Waves for Hope has sights set on the goal to encourage positive life choices and create role models in under-served communities in Trinidad & Tobago.