Ali, a Year 8 student from Balga, has lived in Australia for two years. He had fled Iran then lived in in Indonesia before being processed by Australian officials and moving to Perth.
Activity program coordinator and school chaplain Matthew Merrick said that despite only seeing the ocean on a boat to Indonesia, the 12-year-old had keenly expressed his interest to get involved in the water sport.
‘As a part of my role it is my job to make physical activities accessible to all students and so the surfing lessons that were planned were advertised to all Year 8 to 12 students,’ Mr Merrick said.
‘Ali came to me very early on in the year expressing his desire to be involved. He loves swimming in the pool and was very eager to experience something new – the ocean and surfing.’
Mr Merrick said given Ali’s lack of water awareness the school decided that it was best to continue his swimming lessons first.
‘Our staff assessed him as both confident and competent in deep water and so we took him along,’ he said.
‘On the day his peers were buzzed by the whole experience because they realised the significance of it being his first time at the beach.
‘Ali picked up the skills very quickly and looked in his element out in the water – he was even able to get his feet on the board.’
Ali said the experience was a great one and was hoping to continue the sport in future years.
‘I would love to get my own board if I have my own money,’ he said.
The students have three lessons remaining and they serve as a timely reminder of water awareness and safety following the death of 13-year-old Ugandan Jenon George Biwot from Clarkson, who drowned at Claytons Beach in Mindarie on Sunday March 17.