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SOPHIE MCCULLOCH: "Creating impact starts with putting your hand uP"

Surfer Sophie McCulloch in the ocean on a surfboard.
Athletes For Hope Australia Ambassador Sophie McCulloch.

Between her events in the 2024 World Surf League Pro Tour, Athletes For Hope Australia Ambassador Sophie McCulloch recently found time to share her thoughts for our Athlete Spotlight about the impact of community contribution throughout her life.

"I grew up in Alexandra Headland on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. I live in the same town now, however I am only there 10% of the time as I'm on the road competing most of the year, or down on the Gold Coast for training.

I grew up with three other siblings in a very close family environment, where my parents showed us what a balanced, hardworking, educated, caring and happy lifestyle is. I have always valued working hard to do what you love, while developing healthy and honest relationships and being grateful for everything along the way.

Being a member of a small community club, North Shore Board Riders, as I progressed in sport I began to notice the impact that I can have on the younger members by setting an example and contributing to charities.

I realised that if I can actively give back to causes that I am passionate about, then the generation behind me will be inspired to as well.

When I was in high school I participated in a local Disabled Surfers charity day. The contagious joy of participants being taken surfing, has stuck with me to this day, and I am really excited at the prospect of being able to continue to help and share the privilege of being in the ocean. I really enjoy taking the time to support my local board riders community by helping out at monthly events, judging the younger divisions and working towards creating a team culture that fosters the younger generation.

I find that volunteering is the most effective way to help. I am often travelling so whenever my time at home lines up with a charity event, I feel the most impact I have is when I am physically involved. I am not home enough to do too much behind the scenes work, so believe it is best when it’s a ‘more hands make lighter work’ scenario.

I have learnt that when it comes to trying to help charities, it doesn’t hurt to just reach out, because more often than not there’s always something you can do. Through this work I have learnt that although training may seem like it cannot be sacrificed, sometimes you can learn more about yourself sacrificing some training to give back to your local community.

The smiles on the faces of the individuals that the charity supports is without a doubt the best thing about community contribution. It’s always worth it to just put your hand up. The more you can become involved the more you will learn about where your passions lie in this realm."

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