Pure Stoke Hits Ventura Beach

Surf instruction nonprofit is all inclusive and all fun

By Lori Denman-Underhill

The hot sun last weekend brought out an endless amount of families to California Street beach in Ventura. A new nonprofit — appropriately named Pure Stoke— was there to greet those who have been longing to surf.

Pure Stoke’s surf instruction events are all inclusive and have been teaching at two locations – Ventura and Rosarito, Mexico. Prior to becoming a nonprofit, they taught orphans in Mexico with extreme disabilities.

The second event was held on Saturday, July 7 by the cove at C-Street, where the youngest surfer was four and the oldest was 22. Kids of all ages, persons with any disability and those who come from inland low income neighborhoods far from the sea, flock to their events.

Pure Stoke founder Zora Wolter created the nonprofit from the heart, as she wanted to give back to the local surfing communities. She also saw supply and demand. The nonprofit was incorporated in February, 2018. She saw there was a high demand for those wanting to learn to surf and a low supply of volunteer based groups with instructors.

Zora Wolter, Photo by Lori Denman-Underhill

As she admired and worked with groups including A Walk on Water, she had more of an all-inclusive vision. Anyone of any age with or without disabilities is welcome.

“We have moved along quite quickly, thanks to the good will of the people of Ventura,” said Pure Stoke Executive Director Heidi Phillips to Citizens Journal.  “We receive a lot of contributions including great surfers donating their time, restaurants giving food for events and more.”

Surfers are cleared with background checks and other screenings before hire, since they are working with a vulnerable population. Top priority is assuring those learning the stoke of surfing also feel safe. Many instructors have worked with other surf instruction groups including A Walk On Water, that teaches children with disabilities and special needs.

Pure Stoke is always on the lookout for sponsors to donate equipment, wetsuits, lunch and other items. During the evening following the beach day on July 8, the group held a raffle at Leashless Brewery in Ventura on Thompson. Bands played a variety of music to a packed all-age crowd that enjoyed tasty brews.

The group is heading down south for the next event, since there is a demand from inner city families inland from Venice Beach and in South Los Angeles.

“The children who are learning to surf build up a repore with the instructors and come back again,” Phillips added. “When they return, they are familiar with each other and it creates a sense of belonging. It is a great connection.”

Lori Denman-Underhill has been a professional journalist since 1996. She has worked as associate editor for the Los Angeles Daily News TODAY Magazines and has freelanced for LA Weekly, Surfline.com and more. She is now the Ventura reporter for Citizens Journal.

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