Learning in the ocean

2019-04-02 06:01
Coach Monray Ryan Kenny with the learners.

Coach Monray Ryan Kenny with the learners.

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I AM WATER Ocean Conservation, a non-profit organisation in Kalk Bay, believes everyone has a role to play in the shared responsibility, towards each other and the ocean, hence they do what they do for the ocean.

Underpinned by the ethos of Ocean Conservation through human experience, they work in various ways to engage people about ocean conservation and show them the positive impact and important role they can play in helping to conserve the future and sustainability of seas.

Formed in 2010 by free diver Hanli Prinsloo, I AM WATER runs Ocean Guardian workshops aimed at Grade 7 learners.

The workshops incorporate self-development through stretching, mindful breathing and relaxation, exploration through snorkeling and facilitated ocean awareness (beach clean-ups, educational talks and informative discussions). The aim is to connect people to the ocean, fostering a love for the environment that can underpin a sense of stewardship towards sustainable living.

“We believe in providing access to the ocean, to facilitate positive experiences in water, and feel most strongly about our energy being focused on youth from communities that live near the sea, but seldom have access to any of these kinds of experiences. That’s why we’re currently most engaged with learners from Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha. We’re also really focused on developing, training and employing coaches from the same communities who bring their own qualifications and experiences as ocean lifeguards, divers, swimmers and biologists. These coaches are role models for the learners of our programmes,” says Prinsloo who is also the CEO of the organisation.

During the course of her free diving career, Prinsloo became less enamored with the competitive aspect of her path and more convinced that she could use her skills to create access to the ocean she’d come to know and love.

“Basically, a deep love of the ocean meant that I simply couldn’t do anything otherwise than to protect it – and over the course of years, I recognised that others want to do the same, and needed a vehicle and platform to do so,” she says.

The programme is aimed at Grade 7 youth from schools located within a 10km radius of the northern shores of False Bay.

“Learners come to us most often with no ocean experience, and little or no swimming experience. We make sure to provide safe, guided experiences that can open the ocean to anyone, regardless of their skills and experience,” she says.

Prinsloo adds that the sense of community between coaches, the comments and smiles from learners when they achieve something they’d never anticipated they might on a first day of snorkeling, and a hopeful approach to positivity in the ocean conservation and social development sector, make for the most buoyant feeling within the organisation and makes them different.V For more information visit https://www.iamwaterfoundation.org/

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