Linzi Hawkin, founder of SUPKids, gives TotalSUP an exclusive interview. She gives us the low-down on the company, what they do and what they have in mind for the near future.
Linzi, can you introduce yourself?
Linzi Hawkin, I’m from a little island called Jersey that sits in between England & France. I’m the founder of SUPKids.
What is SUPKids and how did it start?
SUPKids is a program for kids age 5-12 combining water safety, environmental education & SUP. The SUPKids story started in 2014, in Far North Queensland, Australia where we ran our very first program. We worked alongside the Royal Flying Doctor Service to deliver a SUPKids programs to an indigenous community just north of Cairns.
One program turned into two, then three … then a tour of Cape York, delivering vital water safety & environmental education to the very most remote communities, testing our inflatable SUP’s (and four wheel driving skills) to the very limit!
In 2015 we travelled to Thailand to hang out with the Starboard team and give them an opportunity to experience SUPKids for themselves. We realised our intentions were aligned; to enable kids to learn to SUP in a safe manner, whilst exploring their environment and becoming ambassadors for their planet. Since that awesome trip, we’ve been training SUP coaches how to teach our program and setting up SUPKids Delivery Centres around the world.
Can you tell us a little bit about what SUPKids does?
Our main aim is to connect kids back to nature. We really believe that people spending more time in nature is one of the most important things we can do to protect the planet. It might sound simplistic but it’s the first step to making people care. As paddlers we have a deep connection with the water, and so we’re much more aware of the risks our oceans face than most. But plugging back into nature does more than remind of the problems. It slows us down, it keeps us happy and it helps us reconnect to what is important.
SUPKids is committed to enabling more kids to grow up with that special relationship with nature. We work with SUP schools around the world to help them teach kids more than just how to paddle. We’re using SUP as the vehicle to teach kids about ocean plastics, climate change and how they can become ambassadors for the planet.
In which countries do you operate primarily?
We’re growing pretty fast, but right now we’ve got SUPKids Delivery Centres running programs in 18 countries. It’s a super exciting time for us because we’re working with SUP schools all over the planet who are teaching our programs in the ocean, on lakes, in rivers and in safe waterways in all sorts of awesome locations (all over Europe, the US, Thailand , South Korea, Japan, the Caribbean to name a few). The program has been developed for kids age 5-12, and can be delivered in three ways; As a 5 day camp (during school holidays), as a 5 week program (on the weekends or after school) or as a one day activity.
What is SUPKids working on right now and what will your focus be going forward?
Right now our focus is on working closely with our Delivery Centres, making sure they have everything they need to run their programs. We’re in the process of building a couple of really exciting new partnerships which will really impact our curriculum (we’ll tell you more soon!). Our aim is to grow organically, to listen to the market and keep evolving our work so we can reach as many kids as possible.
We’re spending a lot of time this year on our Giving Back programs, and exploring ways in which we can increase our impact. Right now, all our SUPKids Delivery Centres commit to running at least one free program a year for under-privileged kids in their community. That means we can ensure that we’re having a global reach and that our whole team can build long lasting relationships in their local community.
How many children are taking part in the SUPKids’ programs?
That really depends on the Delivery Centre. We have some schools who will run 2 or 3 camps over the summer holidays with 20 kids in each, and others who are offering SUPKids programs all year round and will put hundreds of kids through a year.
How is SUPKids founded?
SUPKids is a B Corp. We knew right from the start that we didn’t want to start a non-profit, we didn’t want to rely on hand outs or government funding. We wanted to approach this from a business perspective and grow SUPKids into something that can stand on it’s own two feet. We’re massive fans of using business as a force for good. That means, instead of our bottom line being purely financial, we’re focused on a triple bottom line (financial, environmental & social). For us, success means doing well in all three areas.
For more information about SUPKids, have a look at their website