THE smile on the face of Letia Jones said it all on Saturday when the six-year-old made a splash at Moruya Beach.
Trained Special Nippers assistants meant her mother, Kylie, could sit back and watch her autistic daughter “have a ball”.
“Because of Letia’s special needs, it is a lot of physical work,” the Narooma mum said.
“Having trained people watching her was just fantastic. She got a lot of water time. She spent the whole time on the surfboard.”
Ms Jones said Letia had limited verbal communication, and concepts such as danger, deep water and bluebottles weren’t always easy to grasp, but Special Nippers was the best environment to learn water safety.
“Normally, I am constantly watching and helping,” she said.
“It is a fantastic service for people with disabilities. There are not a lot for our kids.”
Letia was one of several children and young people who have joined this year’s Moruya Surf Life Saving Club program, which finishes on March 23.
Each Saturday, from 11am, they learn water fun and safety and then share a barbecue.
On Saturday, organisers said thanks to three
community groups for donations and Bega MP Andrew Constance for organising a state government grant.
Moruya’s Country Women’s Association members watch their donated surfboards in action and will support the program for three years.
“The smiles as children caught waves were a great affirmation,” lifesaver Mike Hallahan said.
Just as much fun was had with a huge ball donated by Moruya Country Markets, “a big hit with the kids”.
Moruya Rotary Club has covered all membership and insurance costs for participants, relieving the “burden on parents who already have substantial costs”.
Mr Constance helped secure a grant of $193,637 to provide disability access and facilities to the club.
Mr Hallahan said it would cover 75 per cent of the redevelopment.
“Andrew has been a great supporter of Special Nippers and his representations on our behalf assisted with the successful outcome of our grant application,” Mr Hallahan said.
“We have a wonderful team of helpers and their enthusiasm and empathy makes it such a special time for children and their parents.”