Cape Paterson Surf Life Saving Club Nipper coordinator Charlie Crawford was key to implementing Starfish Nippers at the club. Charlie was busy giving important beach safety advice last week.

THE Starfish Nippers program at Cape Paterson Surf Life Saving Club is giving local children with disabilities the opportunity to learn life-saving skills at the beach.

The program is designed for children and young adults with a disability six years and older.

The Starfish Nippers are supported one-on-one by trained professionals and are able to undertake the same activities as the Nippers.

One club to implement the program recently was Cape Paterson Surf Life Saving Club.

Starfish Nippers team leader Talitha Crawford said the club was more than happy to give it a go.

“One of the surf life saving clubs ran a professional development session at Surf Life Saving Victoria and we went along and were given some information and the courage to have a go,” she said.

“It’s something that requires a lot of organising, and we didn’t advertise the program more broadly because we wanted to have a slow start.”

Last Tuesday, January 18, the club hosted children from Interchange Gippsland who had a fantastic time, which has now forged an ongoing partnership between the organisations.

“We’re hoping some of the families may participate with us next season,” she said.

“This is one of the few programs where families can come to the beach together.

“The Starfish also have their own flag like other age groups.

“The program is really to respond to the needs of children.

“We run through all the activities you would normally do on a Nippers morning.”

The club was also visited by Trudy Micallef, head of diversity and inclusion at Life Saving Victoria, who was excited to see that the program is growing. For more information on the Starfish program, visit bit.ly/3FIfRLn.