2018 Good Sports Awards: NSW Club of the Year
Cooks Hill Surf Life Saving Club are the 2018 Good Sports NSW Club of the Year.
There is one thing that drives Cooks Hill Surf Life Saving Club, the 2018 Good Sports New South Wales Club of the Year. It’s the fundamental belief that no-one should miss out on having a splash in the ocean. The club sees itself as a community asset and has developed a range of initiatives. They seek to promote an inclusive and welcoming environment for all, involving many people who could be considered as marginalised from the community. Their passion and commitment to this goal is what has earned them the title.
“While we focus on traditional surf club initiatives, we also promote equal participation in competition no matter the talents or abilities of individuals,” says Member Services Officer John Clyde Mayo. “Everyone is actively encouraged to train and ‘have a crack’ if they wish.”
Some of their initiatives include the Same Waves nipper program. The program is for children with special needs and assisted swimming sessions for adults with a disability. They teach using equipment such as beach matting and beach wheelchairs. John says whenever these sessions are held, they put the call out for volunteers within the community. A Same Waves session for 40 children can require more than 60 support people to ensure everyone has a safe and fun experience.
The Life Saving club making waves something for everyone
“It’s hard to know who has the most exercise and fun — the nippers or their support volunteers,” John says. “Many community members maintain membership to support our community inclusion programs and gain incredible enjoyment and satisfaction year on year.
“A gentleman with profound paralysis due to cerebral palsy is a vibrant example. It requires eight ‘good sport’ support people to safely allow this ‘good sport’ swimmer to enjoy the ocean. He delights in the waves … and everyone enjoys this with huge smiles, including the general public watching from the beach. Salt water is the only place where he can propel himself independently.”
The club also facilitates an inclusive beach and surf education program. The program is available for immigrants, refugees and international students from countries without a coastal aquatic culture. There are also nipper sessions for children from the Indigenous community.
“These Good Sports moments are just that and have seen our membership numbers grow in all areas of our club,” John says. “The media has also become engaged in reporting our initiatives mainly due to their inclusion and diversity and how they have engaged the wider community.”
Inclusive fun and safety at the beach
“Observing a 14-year old club member, helping a nine-year old Afghan refugee girl adjust her head scarf when she swims in the surf for the first time makes everyone’s heart shine. We consciously and passionately aim for a culture of inclusion at Cooks Hill SLSC, as we as a club are all the richer.”
John said the bar is where many social activities still take place. But joining Good Sports has instilled a culture where having a drink isn’t the focus of the celebrations.
“Through the resources offered by the Good Sports program, the expectations on individuals around alcohol and safe responsible consumption is clearly understood across the membership,” he says. “The bar is enjoyed socially. But is one very small part of the diverse range of activities available and is used responsibly.”