The Sorrento resident recently won a Lions Children of Courage award for her efforts to expand Toni’s Nippers in Bali to another two locations.
Toni-Lee, a Sorrento Surf Life Saving Club member, first set up the program for Balinese children in 2010, when she was 11, after she had been on holiday and saw so many youngsters living near the beaches who were unable to swim and had no awareness of the surf or sun.
The program is similar to Nippers, which introduces primary school children to surf lifesaving and develops beach awareness, and was first linked to Bali’s only surf lifesaving station at Kuta Beach.
She put all of her pocket money into starting the program and raised funds to get over $3000 to buy boards, rescue tubes, have uniforms made and pay for two instructors.
In July, she will return to Bali to set up another two locations on Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan islands.
Toni-Lee said it was important to set up more locations to continue to teach as many Balinese children to stay safe on the beach.
‘Every drowning is preventable,’ she said.
‘When we go in July, we will be taking more equipment and also making more uniforms and we will also be holding a fun championships.’
She said her school, St Stephen’s in Duncraig, was also helping her by collecting stationery and schoolbooks to give to the Balinese children.
‘They do not have this kind of equipment and we waste too many items here in Australia that could be given to other children in need,’ she said.
Toni-Lee’s goal is to expand her locations to the east side of Bali in 2014.