The OneWave organization started in Bondi Beach, Australia to raise awareness for mental health. They started holding an event called "Fluro Friday" where everyone was encouraged to show up to the beach in fluorescent colors. The idea was to create a welcoming space where conversations about mental health are more accessible. The bright colors and fun atmosphere are intended to make the subject of mental health approachable and also draw attention to it, to make it less of a taboo topic.
OneWave now holds weekly Fluro Friday sunrise sessions at beaches around the world. It's probably no surprise, given it's proximity to the surf, that Santa Cruz was one of the first places in the U.S. to pick up on the trend. Sarah Robinson, founder of the Fluro Fridays Santa Cruz chapter, and Data Scientist here at productOps, has struggled on and off with depression since she was a teenager. She'd been following the OneWave movement on social media and, feeling in a funk as the days got shorter this fall, decided to reach out to them.
"I had a very enthusiastic and encouraging Skype meeting with the founder, Grant Trebilco, who welcomed me as a 'OneWave Tribe Leader' , which I love since we're a community and a support mechanism." said Robinson.
Following this conversation Robinson organized the very first Fluro Friday for her friends and colleagues this last week at Cowell's Beach.
So what can you expect when you show up to a Fluro Friday?
"There will be donuts." explained Robinson. "We dress up in the brightest outfits possible and surf, swim, do yoga, and hang out. Fluro (neon) makes people smile and it helps to spark conversations that can be difficult. We want to make the invisible, visible. The morning starts with an anti-bad-vibes circle, where we check in and share stories. Everyone is welcome to share but no one is required to. Then we hit the water, surf, swim, boogie board, or hang out on the beach and do yoga. The idea is to have fun, be silly, and spread good vibes."
And if your wardrobe is full of neutral colors don't worry. The group has some bright, funky Goodwill sourced neon get-ups to borrow if anyone needs them.
"I got there a little early to sit on the beach and watch the beautiful sunrise unfold," recounted Chloe who participated in the first Santa Cruz Fluro Friday. "I was a bit nervous but as soon as I heard people’s stories and felt their vulnerability I felt inspired to share mine."
The group meets at Cowell's Beach at 6:30am on Fridays and everyone is welcome. Details can be found on the Fluro Friday Santa Cruz Facebook Group. Santa Cruzans seeking help for mental health difficulties can also contact Encompass Community Services at (831) 469-1700.