THE surfing season is on its way and local children will again have the opportunity to take part in an educational program that may save their lives.
The Vegemite SurfGroms program is a national initiative open to children aged five to 12 years and is in its third year in the Hunter through Learn to Surf Newcastle.
In a partnership with the federal government, local surf clubs have the chance to introduce children to a healthy and fun lifestyle with a focus on safety.
The program opened for registration last Thursday and starts next February at Stockton beach and Catherine Hill Bay.
Learn to Surf Newcastle co-ordinator and coach Miles Niddrie said young children would learn to use beaches safely in a non-competitive program taught by qualified coaches.
"I teach the importance of timing your beach visits to tides and surf conditions to make sure the kids are in the water at a suitable beach and in water the correct depth for their age," Niddrie said.
Having registered his 11-year-old daughter Asha in the program since it started two years ago, he has overseen her progress.
He said participation had been highly beneficial for her.
"It's important for children to learn vital ocean awareness and beach safety skills in this region of Australia," he said.
Each participant in the program will receive a backpack, t-shirt, cap, and rash-vest; and a beach toy.
■ Registrations are now open until February. Register online at surfgroms.com or phone Miles Niddrie on 0404 839 585 for more information.