Grant Trebilco – the modern day hero. We’ve all heard of the saying not all heros wear capes; in this case the hero wears fluro and lots of it. Grant is the founder of One Wave Is All It Takes, a cause that is about creating awareness for Mental Health Issues which is an issue that seems to be ever so present in todays society and one that is very close to our heart. We speak to Grant about how this all came about and his dreams for the future…
How did One Wave Is All It Takes start?
After a week partying at the Aus Surf Open four years ago I ended up in the mental health ward of Manly hospital and was diagnosed with bipolar. I had been put on antidepressants a few months earlier and they had sent me into the manic state of bipolar where I thought shit was finally going right, but I was so wrong. I had suffered for years in silence, but when I ended up in hospital I couldn’t hide it anymore. I pretty much thought my life was over.
When I got out of hospital I moved back home to New Zealand to recover and it was surfing with my family and mates that helped me the most. I couldn’t sit still on the couch because I had the worst anxiety, but I could stay in the ocean for hours. I remember getting this one good wave out front of home and it was the first time I had smiled in so long and actually felt it. Sometimes OneWave is all it takes. I surfed so much with my Dad who also has bipolar and is an absolute legend. I finally got to understand what he had been through it helped me so much just talking it out. The ocean was also the first place I told my friends about having bipolar. I was scared as shit, but the support they showed me was unreal and I will never forget it.
That was the inspiration behind launching OneWave. I wanted to share this recipe of saltwater therapy and surfing and try and start as many conversations as I could about mental health to help anyone stuck in a funk. Me and a buddy Sam were trying to work out how to launch it when I moved back to Aus. We knew we wanted to get people out in the ocean, but we weren’t sure how we could get more people talking about mental health, because of the bloody stigma. Then one Friday morning I randomly decided to get up at sunrise, throw on a shirt and tie and go surfing solo at Bondi. I come up with some random shit having bipolar, but for some reason this felt so good. I was like, I actually don’t give a fuck what people think for once, I want them to ask me why I’m dressed up so I can hopefully start some conversations about mental health. That was OneWave’s first ‘Board Meeting’. It was just me the first week and a bunch of crew laughed at me, some thought I had come straight from Kings Cross, but there was this one guy who asked me why I was dressed up and I shared my story and he opened up about his personal struggles, something he hadn’t even told his mates. I decided if all it takes is me dressing like an idiot and going surfing to start conversations about mental health, then I’m doing it every Friday at sunrise until I’m an old bugger.
The next week I was joined by Joel Pilgrim, who I had never met but now is a best mate and runs the OneWave Surfing Experience. Each week the tribe got bigger, the outfits got more ridiculous and brighter and a month after the first board meeting ‘Fluro Friday’ was born. Fluro Friday is a weekly event held at sunrise at beaches around the world, where we dress in fluro and share stories, go surfing and do yoga to raise awareness for mental health. Wearing fluro makes an invisible issue visible and sparks conservations that never usually happen about mental health. OneWave turned three in March and thanks to some amazing people Fluro Friday’shave now been held at more that 100 beaches worldwide and 15 beaches have OneWave communities that run regular FluroFriday’s (weekly or monthly). There are a bunch of legends that help make it happen and we haven’t missed a Fluro Friday since we were born.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
On OneWave’s third birthday in March this year we had OneWave communities at 52 beaches around the world dressed in fluro and linking arms along the beach. We created the worlds largest fluro wave to show anyone doing it tough that they are not alone. I could not believe that all these people around the world were sharing the love, a lot of people we had never met before. As a result a number of people at different beaches around the world shared their personal experiences with mental health for the first time. It showed that there is a lot of really good people out there, who want to make sure sure people know it’s ok not to be ok and ask for help.
How many beaches are involved and conduct their own Fluro Friday now?
There have been around 110 beaches that have held at least one Fluro Friday event. As far as California, Hawaii, Mexico, New Zealand, Bali, Maldives, India, Samoa, Fiji, England, Ireland, France and Norway.There are 15 beaches that have OneWave communities that run regular Fluro Friday’s (weekly or monthly).
Do you ever get to travel to the other places that are involved and visit the other participants?
Yeah it’s the best travelling to meet all the legends that have started Fluro Friday’s at their local beaches. I try and get to the new beaches in Australia a few weeks after they launch. It’s a bit harder to make it to the beaches on the other side of the world so we have to jump on skype. It’s unreal to see how much of a positive impact these guys are having in their local community.
What is your ultimate goal for One Wave?
Our dream is to give people hope they can beat mental health issues by creating a supportive community connected by the ocean.
Fluro Friday is all about raising awareness of mental health and giving people a taste of saltwater therapy. This is all about prevention, letting people know it’s ok not to be ok and starting conversations about mental health early. We are aiming to have 150 beaches that have run at least one Fluro Friday event by the end of 2016 and 20 beaches that run regular Fluro Friday’s (weekly or monthly).
Last year we also launched the OneWave Surfing Experience – an eight week learn to surf program for people experiencing mental mental health issues. The OWSE gives people the chance to experience how good it feels to get in the ocean and catch a wave. This program is focused on recovery for people who have been diagnosed with mental health issues and might not be able to make it out of bed for the sunrise Fluro Friday surf or may be too anxious to dress up in fluro. Once the 8-week program finishes the aim is for the crew to feel confident enough to join the Fluro Friday community. We launched the first program in Bondi early 2015, with additional programs launching in Newcastle, Perth, Esperance and Gold Coast. The goal is to have 10 beaches running the OneWave Surfing Experience by the end of 2016.
Did you ever think you could make such an impact on the lives of others?
Nah no way. I think I have been so lucky to have so many good people around me that have had such a big impact on my life. I wouldn’t be here without them. Supporting someone going through any kind of mental health issue is the most selfless thing you can do. When I was scared shitless about telling people I have bipolar, my family and mates showed me that those that matter won’t judge. OneWave gave me something positive to focus on when I wasn’t surfing. I focused on helping people rather than beating myself up about stuff I couldn’t change, which helped me so much. I just wanted to try and make it easier for people to talk about it, so hopefully they didn’t hit rock bottom like I did.
The day when I was like holy shit we have to keep doing this no matter what was when one of the OneWave community got up and spoke in front of 70 people at Fluro Friday and said “Fluro Friday saved my life”. She said it was on a Thursday night and she went down to the beach and put rocks in her pockets, ready to walk into the ocean and take her own life. Then she suddenly stopped and thought, if I can just make it through to Fluro Friday I might be okay. Knowing she could catch up with her mates and openly talk about her struggles gave her hope to keep going. The fact that the support of the community saved her life and the fact that she felt comfortable standing up and sharing her story absolutely blew me away. She was so so brave sharing her story and this allowed others to share theirs. OneWave is all about helping people help people and by doing that you end up helping yourself.
What was your occupation before starting One Wave?
I worked in marketing. I was actually doing marketing for a tequila company, which probably wasn’t the best idea but it was fun at the time.
Is One Wave your main focus right now or do you still have to hold a normal day job as well?
When we first launched OneWave I was still recovering and I wasn’t ready to go back to work, so I focused all my energy on OneWave.
Now I’m back working 3-4 days freelance marketing and I spend as much time as I can on OneWave around that. I always haveFriday’s off work for OneWave so I can travel to hang with the crew at different beaches for Fluro Friday.
What’s Your favourite travel destination?
Haha that’s a hard one. I love France but then you can’t beat going home to NZ so I’m going for both.
How do people get involved with One Wave?
Anyone and everyone is welcome to come down to Fluro Friday. It’s a free event and you don’t need to be a surfer to get involved. We also have free yoga at most beaches for people that don’t want to surf. You can head to our website www.onewaveisallittakes.com and Facebook and Instagram @onewaveisallittakes to find out all the beaches involved. If you don’t see your local beach on there we would be so stoked if you started a Fluro Friday at your local. If you are keen to find out more send me an email – email@example.com
Watch the links below to see the wonderful things that One Wave is up to or follow the links below to find out more information
OneWave Community clip – https://vimeo.com/125679718
OneWave Surfing Experience short doc – https://vimeo.com/131475599