We all want our kids to enjoy a carefree old-school childhood just like we did. For some parents in Singapore this means signing up your child as a Scout or a Girl Guide. But for anyone who grew up in Australia, it means hitting the sand to learn beach safety and surf lifesaving skills as a little nipper. Sand, surf and sunshine is just good for the soul. Until recently, surf rescue for kids was sadly not an option in Singapore. Enter HoneyKids’ lovely former Editor, Skye Wellington. We recently caught up with Skye to hear all about how she converted her girlhood love of life saving into ANZA Singapore Nippers – a not-for-profit, parent-led, volunteer group where children from four to 14 years of age can learn beach and ocean awareness through fun activities, swimming and running, and connect with the great outdoors.
Skye’s the first to admit that, like a sausage rolls and sauce, nippers is a quintessential Australian activity. But she’s also quick to say that ANZA Singapore Nippers welcomes participants from all countries to become mini-lifesavers, and families of all nationalities to become a part of the community. Sounds awesome to us! We just had to hear more from the lady herself…
What is ANZA Singapore Nippers in a nutshell?
It’s all about getting kids out on the beach and active! We share our knowledge of typical nippers events such as flags, wades, sprints, relays, run-swim-run, and board races. We also mix it up and throw in the odd game of tug-of-war, rubber thong flags, chain tag, and paddle to Pirate Island. The kids LOVE it (and so do the adults…)
Through all of these activities, we aim to promote confidence, sportsmanship, strength, speed, problem-solving, teamwork, safety, and respect for the environment. While we nurture awareness for our natural environment, we nurture awareness of others. While we build strength, we build strength of character.
What made you start up surf life saving for kids in Singapore?
I started the ball rolling with ANZA Singapore Nippers in 2015 because I was looking for a community to belong to. After having lived here for so many years I found I was missing a deeper community connection. I was a nipper at Coolum Beach Surf Life Saving Club when I was a kid and have great memories. During the week there might have been family or school issues going on in each others lives, but on Sunday mornings we stood together and stared down waves, competed to grab flags and had aching legs from running in sand.
So, when I saw a profile piece on Hong Kong Nippers in early 2015, I felt a real hit of nostalgia. The idea of accessing the outdoors here in Singapore, to share with my own kids the values I grew up with, was a revelation. And surf shmurf. Those passing ships make for a good set every now and then!
What challenges have you faced along the way?
Starting nippers in Singapore has been a labour of love. It’s my fourth baby (my third was born mid set-up). At first I shopped the idea to people who I thought would be good at initiating it, but soon realised it wasn’t going to happen unless I did it myself. I made enquiries with Surf Life Saving Australia, Singapore Life Saving Society and Hong Kong Nippers, researching and writing proposals. Mostly this sent me round in circles – so I bit the bullet and did a Kevin Costner – build it and they will come! One Sunday in April last year, with some cut up garden hose and a few buckets, a group of us got together and hit the beach. A lot of those people have stuck with it, and we haven’t looked back.
We ran 2016 for free, but the impetus was there to grow and I was concerned about liability. Over time we’ve formed a committee and this has been a big achievement – without the support of a dedicated group of individuals we would not have been able to affiliate with ANZA, obtain insurance, train coaches to attain their Bronze Medallion and maintain our water safety standards.
What effect is it having on the community?
To gather together over 100 kids every Sunday morning, plus many more parents and volunteers (pre-coffee and sleep-in forgone), is wonderful. But the amazing part is the teamwork and camaraderie that everyone from age four to 49 offers to make it happen, happily and constructively. It’s touching seeing our group, who may have had nothing in common previously, coming together weekly and recognising value in each other. Yes, sharing beach and ocean awareness skills and training mini-lifesavers is what we’re doing, but the heart that’s required of everyone to do that is where it’s at.
Excitingly, we’re at capacity, with more people wanting to join. Right now we’re focusing on fine-tuning our sessions and training more coaches so more kids can join the fun.
How do we sign up for the next season?
What: Singapore Nippers for kids U6, U7, U8, U9, U10, U13; www.anza.org.sg
Where: Tanjong Beach, Sentosa.
Time: Current season fully booked (12 Mar to 25 Jun 2017). Season 2, 10 Sep to 17 Dec 2017; Sun 8.45 – 10.30am.
Cost: Register in season 1 $350, additional child $260, discounts apply for re-enrolment.
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