Kids fishing workshop a national success

Lake Illawarra police Inspector Steve Johnson and Aboriginal community liaison officer Layne Brown with Berkeley kids (left to right) Shianne Clark, 11, Kayla Clark, 12, Jessica Clark, 14, Kaywana Russell, 10, and Annalee Quinn, 14, at Lake Illawarra. Picture: ANDY ZAKELIIt was a case of the one that got away for Lake Illawarra police, who narrowly missed out on hooking a prestigious national fishing award last weekend.

The command’s popular Kids Fishing Workshop program netted a spot among five finalists at the Recreational Fishing Awards held on the Gold Coast in a category that celebrates initiatives aimed at encouraging women and young people to cast a line.

Although the Lake Illawarra police initiative didn’t reel in the top gong, program creator Inspector Steve Johnson said he was far from disappointed.

“It was fantastic we were nominated for this award; it is a testament to all the hard work done by everyone involved,’’ he said.

“Although it would have been great to have won, the most important thing for me is children getting outdoors, having fun and seeing a big grin on their faces when they catch a fish.’’

Inspector Johnson said the workshops were designed to teach kids the basics of fishing, and improve the relationship between police and children from vulnerable communities.

“If we can change the life of just one child and steer them away from some risk-taking behaviour then our hard work has not been in vain,” he said.

“Research suggests that getting kids involved in recreational activities such as fishing has the real potential to divert them away from risk-taking behaviours and if a kid develops a real love for the sport they can also potentially make a living out of it, whether it’s working in the tackle industry, being a fishing guide or even a fishing TV show presenter.’’

Although still in its infancy, the program is set to expand, with four workshops a year reaching out to 120 kids.

Lake Illawarra police Superintendent Wayne Starling said he was proud of the efforts of everyone involved with the program.

The next ‘‘Cops and Koori Kids’’ fishing workshop will be held on October 3. For information on the program contact Inspector Steve Johnson on 42325321.

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