Albatross Nippers the subject of new film

‘Included’ is a heart-warming documentary of a surf lifesaving program bringing children with special needs to the beach.

The touching story of Australia’s most inspiring surf lifesaving program – Albatross Nippers has been made into a documentary and will be screened at HOTA 21 October 2019.   The documentary is a bid to raise awareness of this inclusive program and highlights its mission to help children with special needs experience the joy of surf lifesaving and the positive impact it has made in the lives of these children and their families.

Now in its fifth season, Albatross Nippers is conducted within Nobby’s Beach already established Nippers program which mean all the children get to train alongside one another. The program now has over 100 children and young adults registered up and down the coast as participants and continues to gain momentum.

Founder Nick Marshall discusses the growth of the program.

“Many of the children I have coached over the years had siblings with special needs who wanted to participate, so a demand was there.  What I thought would be a small group of kids training with us at Nobbys, is now a program that has gathered momentum locally, throughout the state and interstate also.”

Inspiration for the film came as with the 2019 Queensland carnival in March, Queensland Surf lifesaving would be celebrating 50 years of Nippers.  Nick wanted to do something special and give these children an opportunity to represent their club in the state carnival.  Through that journey it became apparent that these children were doing something that had never been done before, and an incredible story was unfolding.  Nick teamed up with local film maker Shannon Johnston from Risen Film, and together they created a truly inspiring documentary.

“Originally, we planned for the film to be 10 minutes in length. Then we decided to interview some of the families and kids which enabled us to know the people and learn about their day to day and what the program truly means to them.  There is more emotion in there than we thought,” says Nick.

“One of main reasons for Nippers is to give children the tools to have confidence in the water, and to know how to be safe at the beach.  The beach has been off limits for these families due to sand, noise, chaos. For most of them there has been a massive transformation. The kids love it and have all instinctively learned through the fun. For the parents, it has been a huge leap forward. They know when they come, they will have accessible toilets, carparks, wheelchairs and will be among friendly faces.”

Nick hopes the film will show other clubs how the program can be implemented and that it is relatively easy.

“Naturally you have to tick all the boxes, but everything is already in place.  It really is a matter of inviting the families in.

“There is a strong bond in the surf lifesaving community.  At first, I worried if the people would be there, but each week the volunteers are there, with smiling eager to be involved.  We have people helping us source funding and equipment.  Teenagers come forward offering to help.”

What makes Albatross Nippers so special is that it promotes inclusiveness.  It is not run separately to the main program.  That is important to Nick.

“When Nippers celebrate 100 years, everyone will naturally be included in these programs.  If people see this film in that time, they will see these brave kids and families who had the courage to give it a go, trust the program, and made it happen.’”

To make a donation or find out more about the documentary head to asf.org.au. IMAGE is Shannon Johnston and Nick Marshall (C) Richard Gosling.

Check out the ‘Included’ trailer below:

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