PORTSEA Surf Life Saving Club’s Nippers Program due to finish last Thursday and Friday (6 and 7 January) became the latest victim of COVID cancellations on Wednesday.
The club announced that the last two days of the Nippers program would not go ahead because many families and volunteers had been impacted by the rapid rise in COVID infections across the Mornington Peninsula.
A spokesperson said the “tough” decision was made to cancel the rest of the seven-day program because all available volunteers would be required for beach patrol, and some had already been forced to isolate due to positive cases, either in the family or friendship groups.
Fears are running high that more community events will suffer the same fate as the virus continues to spread.
On Wednesday, a record 401 new COVID cases were recorded across the peninsula, bringing the number of cases to 3862, of which 1087 were active.
More than 600 youngsters had signed up to take to the water at the Quarantine Station at Point Nepean National Park and at the Portsea back beach.
The club’s Nippers program teaches beach safety and live-saving skills and is the biggest Nippers program in the state.
Club captain Jess Lamb said water safety was paramount for children and water safety had never been more important given the disruption to swimming lessons and restrictions on accessing pools and waterways.
“With large crowds expected at the beach over summer and water play and swimming lessons curbed by 18 months of lockdowns, this week’s Nippers program was more important than ever,” she said.
“It’s disappointing that the final session of our Nipper program was not able to go ahead due to the rapid escalation of COVID-19 cases, however we are so pleased that the majority of the program was able to be completed in these unprecedented times.
“We were able to deliver vital surf safety lessons to over 600 Nippers at the start of the program. In addition, the impact the program has had on the mental well-being of all involved has been phenomenal.”
The program introduces children aged six to 13 to lifesaving skills through a range of safe and organised water and land activities, teaching them how to be confident, proficient in the surf and build the skills required to become the next generation of volunteer lifesavers.