NSW Ports has awarded a community grant to not-for-profit surf therapy organisation Surfing the Spectrum to run a ‘surf school’ for dozens of children with autism and their families in the Illawarra this weekend.
NSW Ports CEO Marika Calfas said the organisation was proud to support local events like the Surfing the Spectrum family fun day that embrace the Illawarra's strong community spirit.
“Surfing the Spectrum is one of the beneficiaries of our NSW Ports 2023 Community Grants Program that awarded grants of up to $25,000 for groups delivering positive programs and projects in the communities around our ports and intermodal terminals,” she said.
"This weekend’s event is a wonderful way to bring local families together by giving children with autism and their siblings the chance to learn how to surf, while delivering water safety training that’s important for everyone living along the coast.
“Port Kembla continues to play an integral role in the Illawarra and the state more broadly – contributing $2.9 billion annually to the NSW economy while supporting about 10,000 jobs.
“The grants program and our sponsorships in the region are a great way for us to give back to the Illawarra and continue to support strong, thriving communities.”
Surfing the Spectrum was awarded $10,000 from NSW Ports’ grants program to deliver a free learn-to-surf event for autistic youth at Port Kembla Beach today (Saturday 18 November), during which participants will also learn water safety training. Today’s event follows autism-informed training for volunteers and local businesses supporting the event that took place earlier this week.
Surfing the Spectrum Director and Co-Founder Tahlia Anderson said the organisation’s goal is to share its love of our beautiful beaches with children with autism and their families, while giving them a safe space to be themselves and enjoy the powerful therapeutic benefits of the ocean.
“We train local surf instructors and community volunteers in an autism-informed way to offer these free learn-to-surf events that improve participants’ health and well-being and also promote diversity and inclusion,” she said.
“Teaching water safety is also a critical part of the program as sadly children with autism are three times more likely to drown than neurotypical children, so equipping them and their families with skills to stay safe in the surf is also a vital part of our ‘surf school.’"
“I thank NSW Ports for its grant that’s supported this fun event as well as all of the community volunteers who’ve helped make it possible.”
Further information about the NSW Ports Community Grants Program is available here.