Little Optimist: SA big wave surfer inspiring children to stand tall

2017-05-31 11:40 - Selene Brophy
Post a comment 0

Cape Town - In a world of real-time connectivity, with always switched-on devices, nurturing the love of nature as well as the love of reading books still remains so important for the development of our children. 

Grounding them in practices such as the love of the ocean through lifesaving clubs, beach clean-ups or once-off volunteering with organisations such as SANCOB as well as growing their knowledge through visits to places like an aquarium not only equips them to build a perspective far beyond the me-centric, selfie-taking world we live - but builds invaluable life skills. 

SEE PICS: Blissful freedom as Two Oceans Aquarium releases rehabilitated turtles

Once Cape Town local and big wave surfer, Greg Bertish who understands the benefits of time spent in nature, is all about making a difference and his message is simple: 

No matter how small and insignificant you might feel, due to whatever challenges you face as a child, you too can achieve great things if you believe in yourself.

Bertish has made it his mission to reach out to children who have had to deal with trauma on a daily basis from illness or disability to bullying or abuse by has partnering with Sharkspotters and the Two Oceans Aquarium to launch his latest endeavour, a children’s book entitled, “The Little Optimist”.

Having created the Sharkspotters programme, Berish has spearheaded this latest initiative on on his own real Optimist adventure around the coast, where he raised funds by sailing a tiny Optimist sail boat from Cape Hangklip to Langebaan in under 8 days.  

SEE: PICS: Penguin Waddle shows conservation support for endangered African penguins

Watch his experience here and why he says he did it:

As a young man, Bertish says he too endured a trauma that changed his life forever.

Having contracted a life threatening infection that attacked the valves in his heart resulting in him undergoing two open heart surgeries. Greg was fortunate to survive the ordeal but it was seeing a tiny baby struggle through a similar heart operation that made him determined to see past the tubes and machines into the future, which meant being optimistic.

"It’s a very difficult thing to ask someone to do when all they can think about is dying, but having the love and support of those around me is what encouraged me to never to give up and give into what I was told I could never achieve due to my infection.” 

What: Little Optimist Talk and book signing

When: Wednesday, 31 May 2017 at  18h00

Where: at the Two Oceans Aquarium 

Cost: Tickets cost R70 per adult, and R50 per child

Bonus: Lucky draw to win a wetsuit worth R3 000 

Contact: or all +27(0)21 418 3823

Bertis says he hopes to get the book into hospitals, homes, orphanages and kids rooms around South Africa in English, Xhosa and Afrikaans  – then hopefully more across the world.

He will also share interesting tales about how he started the Sharkspotters programme on Muizenberg beach back in 2004 as well celebrate the success of the programme since its inception. Signed copies of “The Little Optimist” book will be on sale for R120.

All the profits from the evening and the sale of the book will be donated to the Sharkspotters programme. 

SEE: Wavescape: 9 South African artists create surfboard masterpieces

Little Optimist programme:

Bertish will be hosting more events around Cape Town to give the public a chance to meet him in person and buy a signed copy of his book - for more details contact:

- 22 June 2017 at 17h30 - Kommetjie Surf Shop. Meet and greet Greg and the book’s illustrator, Chip Snaddon. Food Truck, wine and beer are available, bring the kids. 

- 24 June 2017 at 11h00 - The Book Lounge on Roeland Street in Cape Town (Greg will be reading the book to kids) Platinum status for five consecutive years and have shown continued improvement in their sustainability efforts. 

What to read next on Traveller24

Freediving the mesmerising world of Cape Town's two oceans

PICS: Blissful freedom as Two Oceans Aquarium releases rehabilitated turtles

Two Oceans Aquarium makes TripAdvisor top 25 + 5 reasons we think it rocks