Paekākāriki Surf Lifeguard Brianna Norris has been chosen as one of 15 surf lifeguards to be selected for Surf Life Saving New Zealand's up and coming leadership development programme, BP Leaders for Life.

Nine women and six men aged 20 to 27 have been selected for the prestigious leadership development programme for 2020-2021.

The 10-month programme is designed to upskill and retain people within the Surf Lifesaving organisation, with the view that they can lead their clubs and the surf lifesaving movement into a sustainable and vibrant future.

First trying out Surf Life Saving, Brianna has been with Paekākāriki Surf Lifeguards since she was 12 years old.

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Brianna Norris.
Brianna Norris.

"I joined to get a better understanding of the water when I was swimming as I lived near the beach," Brianna said.

Qualifying as a lifeguard at the age of 14 it grew from just being a Sunday morning activity.

"It's really shaped my life, it was a Sunday activity and now it's a big part of my life."

Working for the organisation as a beach education instructor and administrator and doing regional guard work in summer, Brianna applied for the programme in order to give back.

"I want to give back to surf because it's offered so much to me, and I believe this course will give me the opportunity to do that.

"One of my objectives is to become a better leader, one that can contribute to my surf club and the national organisation.

"I'm also looking forward to meeting the other 14 candidates and building relationships with them."

Brianna Norris at the North Island Surf Boats Competition at Waihi with team Paekākāriki.
Brianna Norris at the North Island Surf Boats Competition at Waihi with team Paekākāriki.

Sending off her application in May and finding out last week, Brianna will attend five workshops over the next 10 months starting at the end of July in Mt Maunganui.

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The programme includes weekend workshops where the volunteer Surf Lifeguards hear from top leadership speakers.

They learn about good communication, leadership skills, their own strengths and weaknesses, the organisation and its strengths and challenges, how things work at different clubs, and how to make positive change.

"I was really excited to be chosen, and I feel very honoured to be one of the 15."

Beginning in 2012, Surf Life Saving NZ education development lead Belinda Slement said the candidates for this year's programme "were all outstanding".

"This year I really struggled selecting the participants – all the applicants could have gone on the programme."

Graduates have moved into a number of roles including board and committee members, instructors, examiners and patrol auditors, as well as returning to the programme as BP Leaders for Life facilitators.

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Since it started 120 people have been through the BP Leaders for Life programme which is supported by BP.

Studying to be a primary school teacher, the leadership training will also play into other areas of her life.

"Through all my different experiences it all links back to engaging with different people, this course will totally set me up well for that as well, I'm looking forward to starting it."

Brianna will start training in July at a combined weekend event with the 2019/2020 BP Leaders for Life group along with the new 2020/2021 group at Mt Maunganui from July 24 to 26.