Nick Marshall: The Albatross Nippers: Westfield Local Heroes 2019
Coach gives joy of Nippers to kids with special needs
Selfless. Friendly. Fun
Physiotherapist and surf club coach Nick Marshall knew he had to help when he realised local children with special needs were missing out on the joy of Nippers.
So, he started the Albatross Nippers to provide an inclusive opportunity to enjoy the quintessentially Australian rite of passage.
Nick, who is the physiotherapist for the Australian Lifesaving Team and has been a coach at Nobby's Beach surf club for ten years, designed a special program in which his young Nippers buddy up with mainstream peers to enjoy confidence-building activities in the surf and on the beach.
He is “blown away” by being been voted a Westfield Local Hero.
“It gives me tremendous satisfaction that we’re doing something good and it’s positive for the community. It’s proof that the programs are working.”
The award also creates better awareness of the Albatross Nippers, which could attract new volunteers, says Nick.
He plans activities around each child’s abilities and puts a lot of care into recruiting compatible buddies for each one.
Over the past five years, the program has expanded to beaches from Southport on the Northern end of the coast to Currumbin on the southern end.
“I don't have a family member who has special needs and I can't imagine or begin to understand what these families are going through,” says Nick. “But as a surf coach, physiotherapist and parent, I can make a difference to these families and I can make the community I live in a better place.”
Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation.
Thanks to its grant, the Albatross Nippers will be able to fully fund participation in the Nippers for two or three seasons, including the cost of safety uniforms.
“It’ll be easier to expand the program to new beaches and surf clubs,” says Nick. “Each summer, we add a program to a new surf club and hope to reach out to new volunteers.”
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.