Sutherland Shire Council is encouraging primary school children to learn about beach safety and how they can become Surf Heroes on its new website, www.surfhero.com.au.
“Many of us have childhood memories of spending time at the beach in summer – it’s an Australian tradition. We are hoping that through the Surf Hero website and learning from the mascots like Sonny the Lifeguard and world number three surfer Sally Fitzgibbons, our kids will be safer at the beach,” said Sutherland Shire Mayor, Steve Simpson.
“Beach safety awareness courses are often targeted at high school children but kids of all ages visit the beach so we wanted to get the message across to younger children. We want kids to have fun at the beach, but we also want to make sure they are aware of some of the hidden dangers as well,” Steve said.
The Surf Hero website has a comprehensive activity centre with fun games such as find-a-words, memory challenges, quizzes and colouring in activities. The activities focus on teaching children about safety and warning signs, how to identify a rip, the role of Lifeguards and Lifesavers and what our responsibilities are as beach users.
The website also features four mascots including Sonny the Lifeguard and Max the Surf Lifesaver Meerkat as well as the University of New South Wales’ Professor Rob Brander as Dr Rip and surfing champion Sally Fitzgibbons as Sally the Surf Coach.
“Learning about beach and surf safety is so important and Surf Hero introduces kids to the basic surf safety concepts in a fun and enjoyable way. It’s also a great resource for schools, community groups and young people to find out about programs to enhance their skills and knowledge about surf safety,” said Sally Fitzgibbons.
The Surf Hero site has been designed in consultation with Surf Life Saving NSW, the University of NSW, Vegemite Surfgroms and Surfers Rescue 24/7. There are opportunities for providers of other surf awareness programs outside of southern Sydney to promote their courses on the site.
Professor Rob Brander from the University of New South Wales has created several activities on the site to educate kids about the dangers of rip currents on our beaches.
“Rip currents cause more fatalities in an average year than bushfires, cyclones, floods and sharks combined. With thousands of rips on our beaches and so many unpatrolled beaches, it is so important that school kids get as much rip current education as possible so they have the knowledge to keep themselves safe on our beaches,” Professor Brander said.
In addition to children using the site in their own time, the games and activities have been designed so that teachers can use them to complete the water safety components of primary school syllabuses.
“Kids will love getting to know Sonny, Max, Dr Rip and Sally and will hopefully learn more about surf safety at the same time,” Mayor Simpson said. “Incorporating vital ocean awareness and beach safety advice into practical surfing or surf lifesaving tuition will help kids realise for themselves just how important surf safety is and perhaps even inspire them to become nippers or Vegemite SurfGroms and continue to learn at their local surf school and surf life saving club.”
The Surf Hero website has been made possible with help from Tradies which as a sponsor, has donated $10,000 to the site’s development.
Tradies CEO Tim McAleer said Tradies is very proud to support this fantastic initiative and help promote surf safety and awareness in our community. “The beach is an important part of our local culture and we thank everyone involved in the development and launch of the Surf Heroes site,” Mr McAleer said.