Surf lifesavers head out to the bush

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Thousands of primary school students from inland NSW and the ACT will soon get the opportunity to take part in vital water safety lessons ahead of summer, when some of the state’s finest surf lifesavers travel west for Beach to Bush.

In what is shaping up as Surf Life Saving NSW’s largest surf education initiative in at least five years, The Surf Life Saving NSW Beach to Bush program supported by Clubs NSW and Cancer Institute NSW will bring surf education to an expected 15,000 students in regional NSW and the ACT.

The program which will run from Monday 10th November to Friday 14th November and is now into its 21st year began as a result of research conducted by Surf Life Saving Australia, which highlighted that 50% of people rescued from the surf live more than 50km from the beach.

The program has grown significantly since its conception and is now Surf Life Saving’s most significant educational initiative aiming to teach kids a wide range of surf safety tips including general beach safety messages, sun smart strategies, rip and wave identification, sea creatures and first aid, rescues and getting help as well as outlining safety tips for other aquatic environments such as rivers and dams.

This year qualified surf life savers will travel to eight different regions visiting schools as part of eight separate tours. The tours for 2014 include:

  1. Armidale and Tamworth
  2. Scone, Aberdeen, Sandy Hollow, Muswellbrook, Denman, Martindale, Jerry’s Plain, Greenlands and Cessnock
  3. Dubbo, Mudgee, Hargraves, Mumbil, Ballimore, Dunedoo
  4. Orange, Forbes, Parkes
  5. Young, Cowra, Cootamundra, Murrumburrah
  6. Wagga Wagga, Gundagai, Jugiong, Tumut, Adelong, Batlow, Yass and Wee Jasper
  7. Canberra, Cooma, Michelago, Jerangle, Bredbo, Numeralla, Cabramurra
  8. Canberra, Queanbeyan, Captains Flat

SLSNSW Academy Community Education Officer, Stacey Pidgeon, says that not only does the program teach kids important surf safety messaging, it is heaps of fun along the way.

“The Beach to Bush program is really unique as it brings the experience of the beach to regions located a long way from the coast giving kids the opportunity to learn about the importance of surf safety.

“With qualified lifesavers bringing their expertise and enthusiasm for the beach into the program we can ensure that schools are getting the most authentic and original beach education experience without actually being at the beach.

“Not only is the program enjoyable but hopefully the participants can walk away with some important and simple surf safety tips that they can bring back to the family the next time they visit the beach,” said Mrs Pidgeon.

The Beach to Bush Program is the largest and most innovative surf safety education program in Australia, having reached more than 270,000 primary school students since it began in 1994.

ClubsNSW CEO Anthony Ball said the club industry was proud to support the Beach to Bush initiative as it gave young people from across regional NSW a vital opportunity to learn surf safety.

“Clubs across NSW are major supporters of Surf Life Saving NSW. In fact, over the last five years clubs have given their local Surf Life Saving clubs almost $5 million in ClubGRANTS funding to support of their programs,” he said.

“While most people would associate Surf Life Saving clubs with the beach, surf and water safety are essential skills that all kids should be able to learn, regardless of where they live.”

Lifesavers will be available to interview next week during Beach To Bush. For all media enquiries please contact Matt Miller on 02 9471 8053 and for images from the 2013 Beach to Bush program please visit our Flickr.


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