Our Next Random Act of Kindness: OneWave

Our Next Random Act of Kindness: OneWave

Dressed in what can only be described as a very fancy rainbow leopard print flat brim hat, Grant Trebilco is sipping his beer, looking out over a decidedly stormy South Bondi, and grinning.

The softspoken kiwi is the founder of a new non-profit surf community called OneWave that raises awareness around mental health, and, on closer inspection, I can see the words embroidered on his hat.

“It’s cool, hey?” He says, passing it to me for a closer look and launching into a story about his search for the perfect cap, the perks of working with local makers, and how generous people can be.

Grant was diagnosed with bipolar in 2012 and, in his own words, he found out the hard way.  After battling with depression without really acknowledging it, everything came to a head when he was prescribed anti-depressants that sent him into a manic episode.  In the space of a week Grant broke up with his girlfriend, quit his job, spent his entire paycheck and got arrested for stealing a paddle board from a surf club.

“That was the time I actually accepted it,” says Grant.  “And I wanted to beat it. I want to learn how to live with bipolar and have a good life.”

It was being in the ocean, sitting on his surfboard and talking about it with his Dad and his mates that actually made Grant think things could get better. 

So early one morning in March 2013 he decided to share his simple recipe of salt water, surfing and good mates as an antidote for depression and mental illness.  How? He donned a fluro suit and tie at 6am and went for a surf - fully clothed - at Bondi Beach. 

When a passerby asked Grant what he was doing (assuming he’d been at a bucks party) and Grant told his story, the stranger broke down.

“He said he’d battled from mental health issues his whole life and had never even told anyone,” said Grant.

‘Fluro Fridays’ have been happening at Bondi ever since.  

What started as a quirky solo mission has now turned into a fluro fiesta of surfing, yoga and, sometimes, human pyramids.  Usually attracting about 50 people of all ages, Fluro Fridays incorporate free surfing and yoga lessons (aka Sunrise Benders), swimming, and the chance for everyone to catch up, chat, and check that each other is ok.

In recent months, surfers from other beaches have got on board and people are now embracing Fluro Fridays at beaches in Manly, Wanda, Snapper Rocks, Byron Bay, Newcastle, Bali, Hawaii, New Zealand, California and even New York.

“It has become this incredible supportive community of people around the world raising awareness for people going through a funk,” says Grant. 

“The biggest surprise is how many legends there are that are keen to support people going through mental health issues and kick the stigma behind it being a taboo topic.”

For our next Random Act of Kindness, we’ll be supporting OneWave to help get people in the ocean, limbering up on a yoga mat and spreading the message that it’s ok not to be ok.

Over that beer with Grant we hatched out a plan. World Mental Health Day is this Friday 10 October and we’ll be wearing fluro and handing out zinc sticks and information cards to help spread the word.  We’re encouraging people to wear fluro and share their photos (tag @onewaveisallittakes #flurofriday #worldmentalhealthday) to show support for anyone who has ever suffered from mental health problems. 

Grant and the crew will be creating a giant human wave down on the sand at Bondi from 6.15am and we’ll also be hosting free fluro yoga in-store at the Martin Place pop-up shop at lunch time.

“Fluro Fridays have helped people open about their internal battles they've been hiding for years,” says Grant.

“If you hide a secret from someone it’s the hardest thing.  We need to start talking about it because we lose so many people each day to suicide. It feels normal for me to talk about it amongst all these people and it helps so much because I don’t have to hide anything any more."

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Fluro Fridays kick off at 6.30am at Bondi, Manly, Wanda, Snapper Rocks, Tathra and Merewether. Get the full low down here.

We’ll be hosting a free fluro yoga lesson from 1-1.45pm this Friday 10 October at the Martin Place pop-up shop.  We’ll have a few mats available but please BYO if you have one.  Feel free to stick around for some iced tea and a chat afterwards. 

For more information about OneWave, check out their excellent website.

Image credit: Mick Duck and Hirsty Photos.