The We Love Kiteboarding ‘Pay It Forward’ program has a mission focused on community development and youth empowerment, introducing local Dominicans to the exciting world of kiteboarding, a prominent, though prohibitively expensive, activity and industry in their hometown of Cabarete.
Our journey together began in 2019 during our first visit to Kite Beach, where we discovered young entrepreneurial boys, then aged 8 to 13, helping tourists to launch and land kites in return for tips to support their families,
At this young age, of course, they were very impressionable and looking for role models and mentors. We listened, and learned about their individual lives, mentoring where possible, sometimes teaching business principles, sometimes teaching English.
We also initiated annual fundraising campaigns to provide them with kiteboarding equipment, computers, mobile devices, and other essential needs and wants.
In the years since, we’ve watched these boys grow up into young men, and become exceptionally talented kiteboarders!
However, they never received formal lessons. Instead they shared equipment and taught one another, a process that worked for them. But, as a result, in the early years, meant they could not participate in the highest standards of expected practice and beach etiquette.
One of the main goals of our program is to solve this problem by offering professional lessons for newcomers, to ensure they learn best practice and proper etiquette from a certified IKO instructor.
After the successful completion of lessons we also offer access to equipment for daily practice, and, eventually, an invitation to join our team in regional competitions.
Team members are encouraged to volunteer in community development initiatives, like lifeguard training, as well as beach cleanups and other environmentally conscious projects which not only benefit the participant but also the community at large.
An essential part of our program also focuses on career development through the IKO. Employment in the Dominican Republic is challenging. So our foundation now enrols select candidates in the IKO Instructor-certification course.
Candidates are selected based upon their teamwork, leadership, presentation, punctuality and volunteering initiatives.
Certified instructors can expect a substantial wage in the Dominican Republic and rewarding opportunities for IKO career advancement and travel around the world.
Thanks to fundraising and a price reduction from the IKO, Luis Angel LeFrance, 18, is our first candidate to successfully complete the ATC and ITC courses, and is now a certified Level 1 IKO instructor.
Luis and future graduates of this program will, in return, ‘pay it forward’. They agree to contribute financially towards the cost of the course for the next candidate and also volunteer time teaching the next generations of kids that find their way to Kite Beach.
This creates a self-sustaining cycle of mentorship and support within the community. It also creates a true sense of teamwork, as the success of one necessarily depends on the support of another.
With inclusion in the local community, formal lessons, team participation in regional competitions and the opportunity for professional career development, everyone in our foundation can experience personal empowerment and development, and the ongoing realization of shared goals and dreams. As a result, one of the other possible challenges encountered by all young people, the negative influence of drugs and alcohol, is minimized and marginalized.
We need to buy, maintain and repair team equipment, cover competition expenses (registration fees, transportation, accommodation and food), and pay for instructor career development.
We are also a professional social media team. Our fundraising and sponsorships depend on successful story-telling. We see this as another opportunity to provide select candidates with professional social media career development.
Our videos are produced and edited by Markendy Dorjuste, 20, our very own in-house videographer.
We have an extensive social media reach, with many thousands of followers across Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and our website. We regularly promote our sponsorships while posting professional-grade photos and videos, sharing our success stories.
Please contact us to explore business-partnership and sponsorship opportunities.
Thank you in advance for any contribution you can offer.
Everyone wants, perhaps needs, to belong to a dream team.
This is our team – and you are more than welcome to join our story.
~ Keiron Smith