Leila Hurst grew up on a surfboard.
“I feel like I’ve built every bit of confidence and self-esteem I have with my girlfriends in the water,” said the 25-year-old professional surfer who won the World Junior Title in 2012. “You have to be a sisterhood, work together to surf and to learn how to surf.”
Now the Hawaii-native turned Southern California resident is looking to share that opportunity with other young girls.
To do so, she started a nonprofit foundation called Shine With Her, which will host free surf clinics for its inaugural year, starting with one Saturday, June 29 at El Porto in Manhattan Beach.
The event will include surf lessons, art therapy through creating lei necklaces, an inspirational speaker and team building with the goal to help give the girls—including those from inner city environments who may never have been to the beach—a chance to experience bonding in the ocean.
“These girls show up and they’re nervous, they have a wall up,” explained Hurst, who has led impromptu surf camps in the past, including one last year in Manhattan Beach. “But then they get in the ocean and that guard goes down immediately. It’s a really cool icebreaker.”
Hurst, who partnered with sponsors Vans, Nixon and Lei Collective as well as the Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles to host the event, said she is hoping to take away the competitive aspect that can sometimes hamper women from supporting one another—something she experienced while on the pro-circuit.
“I’m so used to things being competitive and comparing myself to other girls. That was my whole upbringing,” said Hurst, who will be out in the water with 30 girls ages 8 to 18 on Saturday. “I just feel like there’s not a whole lot of opportunities where girls are shining together, celebrating each other’s accomplishments and uplifting one another. That’s my whole goal with this event.”
Although the clinic will be the first for Shine With Her, Hurst already has plans to bring additional surf days to San Diego and Hawaii in the coming months.
Each clinic will offer a maximum of 30 girls the opportunity to participate, with some brought by the local chapter of the Boys and Girls Club and others chosen by Hurst and her team.
She said this Saturday’s clinic in Manhattan Beach will bring together a really diverse group of girls, including one 10-year-old who has survived a cancer diagnosis as well as two young women with spina bifida.
“The whole point is to bring together these girls of different backgrounds and have them realize we are all in the same situation, trying to find confidence and self love,” added Hurst, whose sister Sophia also has spina bifida.
Hurst is also hoping to take that theme of opportunity and sisterhood abroad.
“My goal for Shine With her is to expand and go global, take young girls in third world countries surfing,” she said.
Hurst is no longer on the competitive circuit, but has since become a free surfer, focusing her talents on promotional marketing such as videos.
She is also pouring herself into building Shine With Her, with inspiration from sisters Madeline and Sophia, hoping to create lasting connections for young women everywhere through surfing.
“My intention is to build and support communities by empowering girls to be our future leaders,” she said. “Together, we can create a world where girls feel free to explore their passions, embrace originality and are supported in their pursuits.”
For more information on Shine With Her or to sign up for one of the surf clinic events, visit ShineWithHer.org or follow the organization on Instagram @shinewithher.