On a mission to get more under-resourced children connected to the ocean and aware of marine conservation, I AM WATER has partnered with Beyond Sport, and five other international sporting organizations, to launch the Sport for Climate Action Collective Impact Campaign. The core aim of the campaign is to raise awareness about key environmental issues and sustainability.
Each of the organisations involved will run a campaign that contributes to the greater goals in terms of their sporting code in their respective countries.The campaign will run from South Africa and is calling all members of the public to sponsor children from low-resourced coastal communities by participating in I AM WATER’s conservation and snorkel workshops.
I AM WATER’s contribution to the campaign will be focused on getting more under-resourced children connected to the ocean and aware of marine conservation, by letting them experience the sea firsthand.
“We take sponsored learners on our two-day Ocean Guardians snorkelling workshops to spark a connection and love for the sea and its creatures, inspiring participants to be more conservation-minded and to want to take care of the oceans,” said Hanli Prinsloo who is a freediver and the founder of I AM WATER.
“Sport is a powerful tool for positive social change in communities around the world. Sports are also impacted by climate change and in turn can galvanise action to counter the associated negative environmental impacts of human behaviour in their fans and participants,”added Prinsloo.
I AM WATER is the only South African organization chosen to participate in the global campaign. Since 2010,the Cape Town-based environmental non-profit organization has reached over 5,839 school learners from low resourced, low income, coastal communities to ocean ecosystems through snorkelling, where they witness the underwater marine life, kelp forests and reefs for the very first time.
Why target South Africa?
● Less than 16% of youth in South Africa’s disadvantaged communities have ever worn a mask and snorkel before.
● More than 1/3 can walk to the ocean but less than 36% can swim.
I AM WATER works with schools located within 10 km from the ocean in under-served communities and their primary target group is Grade 7 learners. “Our groups are a maximum of 24 participants, with the goal to work with all the Grade 7 pupils in a particular school each year. Right now our work has been focused in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain, but we plan to do more on the Atlantic side and up the West Coast going forward,”said Prinsloo.
The I AM WATER Coaches Programme has up-skilled over 100 ocean users from the same communities, to teach the workshops alongside marine scientists, and they currently have 36 active coaches involved in the programmes.
The Ocean Guardians School Workshops involve two days spent at the beach practising yoga-inspired stretching & breathwork & mindfulness, learning about the marine ecosystems and ocean challenges, the human body’s unique adaptation to being underwater and exploring the intertidal zones and rock pools with marine experts.
Prinsloo added that the experiences are transformative in many ways: “We help children, who have feared or never experienced the ocean, to enjoy it for the first time, and to understand the importance of conservation”