Vans presents the worldwide release of a new surf documentary, “Breaking Boundaries: A Surfboard Drive for Trinidad & Tobago.” Breaking Boundaries spotlights pro surfer Chris Dennis and his ongoing efforts to provide underserved youth in his native country with access to the same escape he credits with saving his life – surfing. Watch the documentary here: Breaking Boundaries | Surf | VANS.
“Trinidad & Tobago has two different sides,” Dennis remarks of the unique region. While the country touts’ beautiful beaches and is one of the wealthiest nations in the Caribbean, due in large part to its oil and natural gas reserves, the country’s economic inequality is staggering, and many communities live in poverty. Chris has made it his life mission to share the transformative power of surfing with the youth in these communities.
From the moment he first witnessed surfing, watching in awe from the cliff at the back of his childhood home, Chris was enthralled. After winning the first local contest he entered – Chris jokes about how green he was, having to borrow a rash guard from someone on the beach – he rolled with the momentum and built a surf career for himself out of the most unlikely of circumstances. Ultimately, Dennis found himself traveling the world competing on the World Qualifying Series tour, where he made many lifelong connections. This time of exploration was eye-opening for Chris and his experiences abroad changed the way he thought about the world. His travels brought the social problems his community was experiencing back home into sharper relief.
Returning to Trinidad, Chris began to work directly with the youth in his community. He started small by teaching a couple kids to surf, with no grand plans in mind. In the process, he became more acutely aware of surfing’s value in these young lives, how it provided educational, recreational and even aspirational opportunities that otherwise were unavailable. He witnessed firsthand how surfing steered kids away from crime, abuse, difficult situations at home and other pitfalls of poverty.
As his impromptu surf mentorship program grew and local enthusiasm for surfing swelled, the lack of equipment became a hindrance to the program’s progress. Enter Dane Gudauskas – an old friend from the pro tour – and the non-profit Dane founded with his brothers Tanner and Patrick, the Positive Vibe Warriors Foundation.
Through Dylan Graves and the Gudauskas brothers’ foundation, Chris connected with Waves for Change, a South African non-profit that the Positive Vibe Warriors, in partnership with Vans, worked with on an extremely successful surfboard drive in 2017. The plan was to host a similar drive to bolster Chris’ grassroots efforts. The drive for Trinidad & Tobago united shops and surf communities on both coasts of the US and collected over 200 surfboards. Building on this support, in addition to training and guidance from his new friends at Waves for Change, Chris founded the non-profit surf therapy program Waves for Hope in 2019.
At its core, Breaking Boundaries is about connection, within the global surf community and humanity as a whole. It is the hope that all involved in these board drives that they trigger a domino effect, encouraging surfers the world over to contribute to foundations like the Positive Vibe Warriors, Waves for Change and Waves for Hope, and launch socially beneficial initiatives of their own. By connecting surf scenes across the planet, and the individuals who drive them, we can affect much greater societal change. It’s an ethos that Chris’ believes can ripple far beyond the world of surfing.
“It’s more than surfboards, and it’s more than a board drive to us,”Chris affirms
“It’s a human thing. If we share, and really care for each other, a lot of our problems will be solvable. So, it means the world.”Chris
To learn more about the Vans surfing program, visit vans.com/surf.
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