“Filming Our Future” captures the heart-warming story of a fearless young nipper and his mum and carer Nicole. It celebrates the ways that both him and his mum step out of their comfort zone and into the tossing waves to forge new community connections and lifelong skills.
Cooper is an energetic ten-year-old boy who loves the water. “The bigger the waves the better for him,” says his mum Nicole. At the age of four, Cooper was diagnosed with selective mutism, and later with autism, meaning that he had no fear of the ocean.
That’s why Nicole decided to get involved with Starfish Nippers, a modified lifesaving skills program designed specifically for children and young adults with disability aged six years and older.
“Our first day at Starfish Nippers was horrendous, that day I really questioned myself over what I can do to get Cooper out in a social environment, learning to do things with his peers and learning how to swim as we have never been able to do lessons. I felt sad and frustrated for my son that being at the beach was so overwhelming and for me when I was a nipper it was so easy, and I had the best time,” says Nicole.
Over time however, Cooper built a strong bond with his mentor, Anthony, and began to grow in skill and confidence. “Watching as a parent to be able to see your child talking to someone so freely is beautiful,” says Nicole.
She says, “It can be so lonely having a child with disability, especially if they don’t want to leave the house.” But describes how having Cooper attend the program alongside the other regular lifesaving activities has allowed her to build relationships with other families and children who aren’t familiar with disability. As a result, they have been able to enjoy Cooper’s triumphs together.
“Pete and I got a chance to take a step back and just let our boy communicate, socialise and gain confidence,” says Nicole.
Nicole still gets nervous when Cooper gets dumped by a big wave but now she has more confidence that he knows what to do. “It’s that smile at the end of the day that makes it worthwhile.”
You can watch Cooper and Nicole’s full documentary here. This is one episode in a captivating new 15-part disability-led documentary series by Screenwest and Carers WA which aims to ensure individuals, families and friends in caring roles and communities have the best opportunity to thrive and have the capacity to respond to emerging needs and challenges.