Meet 14-year-old Jackson Ballardin from Trigg Island SLSC, our Youth Volunteer of the Year and an incredible young man. Jackson has been a member of surf life saving for seven years now and has since made a huge impact at his club, coaching nippers, implementing new surf sports technology and mentoring younger members.
You will always find Jackson on the beach, and when he isn’t busy volunteering, you can generally find him snorkeling at his local, Mettams Pool. If you spot him, I’m sure he will let you know the best spots to see wildlife in the sanctuary.
We asked Jackson to tell us about his time with surf life saving, his favourite memories and some more personal questions, read his answers below.
What does Surf Life Saving mean to you and how has it shaped who you are today? Surf life saving means so much to me. It has presented me with opportunity after opportunity, many of which I would never have expected. It has taught me life lessons like resilience, persistence, confidence, organisation, humility and bravery. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it.
If you could time travel, when would you go? Nowhere. I’d hit the time-machine with a sledgehammer, as there’s no better time to live than right now.
What is the most memorable moment you’ve had during your time with surf lifesaving? My most memorable moment was when Surf Life Saving offered me the opportunity to travel over east and represent WA in the 2019 Aussies Champion Lifesaver event. During my time interstate, I got to visit cities I had never been (Brisbane and the Gold Coast), visit family I had never met, and compete in one of the largest surf lifesaving competitions in the world. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I feel so lucky to have experienced this.
If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? My Nona’s gnocchi. She makes it from scratch and it has been a favourite for everyone in my family since day one.
What was the first sport you ever played? The first sport I remember playing is footy, but my parents say I used to play soccer when I was three.
What is your spirit animal and why? A dolphin because they are playful and cheeky and love the water.
What is your favourite date on the SLSWA calendar? My favourite date is the first day of the new surf life saving season. It marks the day I can finally stop paddling a ski in the icy cold river, jump on a board and enjoy the beach again, during a new year of training and fun.
What is the most rewarding part of being a volunteer? The most rewarding part of volunteering is seeing the joy of others when they achieve their goals. Surf lifesaving has had its challenges for me in the past, so if I can make someone feel more comfortable or achieve their goals, it makes me happy. Volunteering brings me closer to the people in my club; the stalwarts, the legends, the cute nippers and my mates.
What advice would you give someone interested in joining a surf lifesaving club? Do it. Go all in. There’s always a place for you, whether it’s fitness, competition, coaching or first aid skills, there is something for everyone in a vibrant club environment.
Dogs or cats? Dogs. Definitely dogs.
What’s something most people don’t know about you? For some unknown reason, I am obsessed with trains.
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