With our society moving at a faster and more detached manner due to technology, busy schedules and the frequency at which we change jobs, homes and locations, it makes it harder and harder to feel any sense of community. It is too easy for individuals to become isolated and feel a sense of loneliness within their own homes. Effective engagement with like-minded people has proved effective as a vehicle that can be used to build positive relationships with others and community.
For Leisure Options the idea of community simply comes down to supporting and interacting positively with individuals who share a vested interest. This summer, Leisure Options joined an inspirational community in Anglesea and volunteered in their esteemed Starfish Nippers program. The Starfish Nipper program is a modified nippers program teaching beach safety and water awareness skills to individuals with special needs.
The program caters for children and young adults with special needs, beginning with the 6 year old age group. The special needs spectrum includes children with autism, attention deficit disorder, Down syndrome, Asperger’s Syndrome and physical and intellectual disabilities. It is an inspiring program that caters for such a diverse group of young people with special needs. Starfish Nippers believes that everyone is entitled to access programs where they can learn critical beach safety and water awareness skills.
Run entirely by volunteers at a number of Life Saving Clubs around Australia, the program ensures that individuals with special needs and their parents can be involved with surf skills and lifesaving, like their siblings, friends and others on the beach. Activities for the Starfish Nippers include the traditional beach games and activities, beach running, beach flags, swimming, board skills, water familiarization, beach, water and surf safety. There is an instructor for every nipper, a ratio of 1 nipper per trainer for beach activities and in some cases 2 trainers in the water activities depending on the nipper’s ability. This ensures the program is specially tailored to meet individual needs and skill levels in and out of the water, with positive instruction and encouragement along the way. Based on the positive feedback, it is apparent that there are not only benefits to the participants and families of the Starfish Nippers, but entire clubs and local communities are also benefiting. Leisure Options is proud to support and be a part of such a wonderful program.