Bellambi’s Community Program Leads The Way

Children from one of the Illawarra’s most disadvantaged postcodes have been taught the basics of surf safety thanks to an innovative program by Bellambi Surf Life Saving Club.

The club’s “Project 291” took out the award for Community Education Program of the Year at the NSW Surf Life Saving Awards of Excellence in Sydney on Saturday.

Initially the program started because there was genuine concern in the community that school-aged youngsters (primarily those between 5-18) lacked experience in the surf and weren’t equipped to handle it if they got into difficulty while in the water.

The program has attracted significant community support and takes place several times each year. Course participants get to spend time in the local pool to be introduced to basic swimming techniques, while also spending 5 days at the beach during the school holidays where they are introduced to the dangers of the beach such as rips and other hazards.

The club also provides a daily barbeque for the kids, and hopes to foster a life-long love of the water and promote new friendships.

“This is a huge honour for our club; I mean we’re just a battling country club so to earn recognition like this is obviously something we are extremely proud of,” Bellambi President Craig Kershaw said on Saturday.

“The project name 291 actually came from the Royal Lifesaving drowning statistics from a few seasons ago. The community support has been amazing, and to be honest I think the support of the swimming schools in the pool has played a huge role in the success of this as it’s giving the kids a chance to learn their skills both in the pool and in the surf.”

Mr Kershaw said it is rewarding that the State Government has invested in the success of the program and hopes that it continues to strengthen.

“The Department of Community Services have actually come along to a few meetings as they have been trying to engage the kids in the area and engaging them positively is something that we have been able to do.

“Our next program runs in September and we’re looking at having nearly 100 kids involved – so it’s definitely growing,” he said.

The 2015 SLSNSW Awards of Excellence are proudly presented by Stramit Building Products. Almost 350 of Surf Life Saving’s most outstanding lifesavers, athletes, educators, coaches, and administrators from around the state gathered at Sydney’s iconic Four Seasons Hotel for a night of celebration.

For a full list of all the winners and to see photographs from the night please visit the SLSNSW Awards of Excellence Event Page or our social media channels

Photograph - Paul Scully, Craig Kershaw, Kain Nicholls and Jackie Percy from Bellambi SLSC accept the award for Community Education Program of the Year at the 2015 NSW Surf Life Saving Awards of Excellence.

Mon 31 Aug 2015