Last Updated on June 18, 2024

A social project named Sueños de Arena (“Dreams of Sand”), chaired by Alejandro Veliz, a graduate of the Official Master’s Degree in Sport Management and co-founded with professional sandboarder Victor ‘Dito’ Chavez, is using the thrill of sandboarding to empower underprivileged youth in the Peruvian desert.

The project, which aims to promote and develop the discipline of sandboarding in Peru, provides free sport programs for children from poor communities in Ica.

These programs include sandboarding lessons on the slopes of the village-oasis of Huacachina, physical and mental conditioning, motivational speeches, workshops focused on developing values, and nutritional supplements.

"Sueños de Arena" (Dreams of Sand) sandboarding social project in Huacachina. Ica, Peru.
The project aims at empowering vulnerable kids in Huacachina through the sport of sandboarding.

Empowering Youth Through Sandboarding

Dreams of Sand offers a free sports program to children and young people between the ages of 6 and 17, many of whom come from low-income families, giving them access to following activities:

  • 1. Sandboard lessons twice a week in the sand dunes of Huacachina.
  • 2. Physical and mental conditioning.
  • 3. Motivational speeches aimed at boosting self-esteem and foster improvement.
  • 4. Workshops focused on developing values and supporting career development.
  • 5. Involvement of the child’s close friends and family.
  • 6. Picking up trash in the desert.
  • 7. Nutritional supplements to the children’s diets.

Sueños de Arena” social project in Huacachina. Ica, Peru.

Discovering new talent

The non-profit project is financed by Dito Sand Xsports, a sandboarding and sand skiing school that also caters to adventure tourism in Huacachina.

The school is chaired by Dito Chavez, a four-time sandboarding world champion and the first Peruvian to qualify for a snowboarding world championships. Dito’s vision for the project is to empower young people to gain confidence in themselves and to have a more positive outlook on life.

The Snowboard Club Peru was founded in 2019 by Alejandro Veliz, a graduate of the Official Master’s Degree in Sport Management from Johan Cruyff Institute in Spain, who discovered sandboarding after moving to Peru, which does not have suitable glaciers for snowboarding.

The club is working on developing talents from other clubs, with the goal of having a national team that includes talents from other clubs in a year and a half and they are also collaborating in the organization of the Snowboard World Cup 2023, to be held in Georgia from February 26th to March 6th.

From Snow to Sand

The desert equivalent of the competition, the Sandboard World Cup, is poised to take place some times in 2023 as well, after a 2-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, although alternative competitions have taken place on a smaller scale in Chile and Germany.

The Dragon Cup, held in Iquique, Chile, has become the de facto world championship in the past years, drawing sandboarding enthusiasts from around the world. Meanwhile, the SandSpirit competition takes place annually in Hirschau, Germany, on the man-made sand mountain of Monte Kaolino, bringing the thrills of sand surfing to competitors in Europe.

A location for the Sandboard World Cup 2023 has not been confirmed yet, but Huacachina is one of the most likely candidates.

As the sport gains popularity on a global scale, the Dreams of Sand project is making a real difference in the lives of young people in the Peruvian desert, and the organization’s efforts to promote sandboarding and snowboarding in Peru are helping to create a brighter future for these children.

Read also: Sandboarding in Peru: Not Just Huacachina

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