What is the Albatross Nippers?
The Albatross Nippers is a nipper program designed for those children who live in the local community with special needs. It is a program that runs within the standard nipper program. So in the same way that each nipper Sunday will have an Under 11 group, an Under 12 group there will also be an Albatross group. With minimal disruption to the nipper Sunday program the Albatross Nippers rotate through the nipper areas similar to the other age groups. Albeit they do modify their activities based on their abilities and needs.
Why is the Albatross Nippers an important program?
Up until very recently children with special needs have been unable to attend nippers. While on the surface this may not seem like a big deal. In so many cases and areas the friendships and family bonds that are created at nippers last a life time. It’s where families and children from the local area meet and socialise and unfortunately for families with children with special needs this has been more difficult or off limits.
What does the Albatross Nippers mean for the children with special needs?
What we know from current research is that children with special needs need to be surrounded by their similar aged peers to develop, mature and grow in areas not affected by their disability. Aspects of communication, social and non verbal cues develop while surrounded by their peers. While in turn better educating those other nippers in the local area on how is best to include and communicate with children who are different in their own unique way.
How is Albatross Nippers different to other programs?
There are other beach and lifesaving based programs. They are fantastic and in no way are they not providing a tremendous service to the community and its people. But a large amount of these programs are not inclusive. They provide an experience for children with special needs to do and participate in activities. As opposed to being included in regular activities. Unlike other programs, the Albatross operates within the standard nipper program. Becoming a truly inclusive program for these families and children. It’s similar to the notion that for a school to be inclusive it needs to be accessible to all children with special needs during normal school hours. As opposed to a school experience where special needs children can attend a school, but only on the weekends when all the other children aren’t there.
How does the Albatross Nippers effect the health and safety of special needs children.
Similar to any nipper family. We take our children to nippers to learn basic surf skills and safety when they are at the beach. As well as introduce them to the ocean so that they can form a love and bond with the beach and the ocean and in turn allow them to use it safely away from Nipper Sundays. The albatross’ has a similar goal. From research we know that there is an ever increasing gap between the health status of a child with special needs compared to one without and that gap is increasing due largely to ‘Physical inactivity”. Physical inactivity for children with special needs can be reduced by providing safe and affordable areas to recreate and stay fit and healthy and what better place to do that than the beach and ocean. So by introducing the beach and ocean as an area of fun and recreation in nippers we are effectively opening up an area for these families and their children to come and safely access and enjoy away from Nipper Sundays.
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