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Canberra children growing up hundreds of kilometres away from the coastline are able to participate in the popular Nippers program thanks to one club’s determination and desire to make beach education a priority.

With many of its members hailing from the region, Broulee Surfers SLSC wanted to ensure that the people of Canberra and surrounding area had access to world class beach education in their home town.

This partnership has been enthusiastically embraced by surf lifesavers and the wider community and previously earned acclaim in August as 2018 Surf Life Saving NSW Community Education Program of the Year.

Last weekend the program won yet another honour after it was named the Australian Community Education Program of the Year at the Surf Life Saving Australia Awards of Excellence held in Sydney at the Art Gallery of NSW.

“We wanted to make sure the Canberra kids could become part of the iconic Nippers program. By partnering with the Broulee surf club and having them support us and now with Mollymook, it’s a great way to spread the education to all the kids, no matter where they live,” said program founder Bethany Williams.

“It has grown our club exponentially. The Canberra families traditionally come to our beach for their holidays and now they’re coming and instead of being rescued, they’re the rescuers. It’s a really amazing thing to see,” added Wendy Law who is director of youth activities at Broulee Surfers clubs.

During several supervised visits to the beach, the club not only trained the children but the parents as well.

As a testament to the success of this program, 20 parents and older siblings of the rookie Nippers have completed their Bronze Medallion or SRC.

Thanks to its beautiful beaches and proximity to the nation’s capital, the Far South Coast has always been a popular place for people looking to escape the brunt of summer, but the lack of opportunities to learn ocean awareness among the youngest members of the population has always been a source of concern.

“We’ve had a lot of support from the Broulee Surf Club,” said Steve Corcoron whose children are eager participants in the program.

“By being able to do training and learn some of the skills and knowledge in Canberra, and then travelling to the coast every third week during the season to work alongside their peers, is making a huge difference to accessibility for surf lifesaving in the area,” he said.

Although the challenges of distance still remain, one thing is for certain, Broulee and Canberra are forming a strong bond.

The Broulee Surfers/Canberra Nippers Program took out a major award at the SLSA Awards of Excellence. Representatives are pictured here receiving the NSW Community Education Program of the Year Award at Dockside, Cockle Bay Wharf in August


Tuesday 30 October 2018