9-year-old SA conservationist says it would be 'epic' to clean beaches with Lewis Hamilton

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Romario Valtentine (Wheels24)
Romario Valtentine (Wheels24)

• Romario Valentine is an activist for marine life and nature.

• Romario is a huge Lewis Hamilton fan and watches F1 every weekend.

• The youngster is excited about Extreme E kicking off in 2021.

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Three years ago, a six-year-old Romario Valentine was assigned the role of an orca in his school play. The little, excited about his upcoming performance, asked his parents just what an orca is and so began a search through everyone's favourite neighbourhood search engine, Google. What started as 'wanting to find out more' soon grew into a full-blown passion that saw Romario become one of the most prominent wildlife activists in South Africa. 

Now nine-years-old, Romario has come a long way since the play and has he been involved with tonnes of projects to preserve, protect, and save nature. Especially marine life, which became a massive part of his life over the last 36 months.

Romario opened to Wheels24 about his passion for marine life, Extreme E (the new racing series that will kick off in 2021), and Lewis Hamilton.

Romario, the activist

When Romario and his parents did their research on orcas a few years back, they soon realised just how endangered these animals were. Not only orcas but many other sea creatures, as well. A huge contributor to this endangerment was pollution - a human-made form of hazard to nature. This sparked something in Romario, and so began a personal mission to take care of the environment.

Romario says: "After researching with my mom, I discovered the damage pollutants were doing to orcas and turtles which could lead to their extinction and cause an imbalance in the ocean's ecosystem. I decided to make it my mission to protect marine life and our environment."

Follow Romario on Twitter.

"Parents must educate their children on how to look after the environment for future generations. To the children I would say work hard, be benevolent, and never give up."
Romario Valentine

As the conversation continues, you can pick up that Romario is not your ordinary kid. He has a healthy and rich vocabulary and presents himself admirably. On social media, too, he is the same passionate kid that lives for nature and his fight to preserve it. In the last three years, he has done more than 130 beach cleanups and became Ocean Sole's youngest Ambassador in September 2020. (Ocean Sole recycles flip-flops found on beaches and turn them into marine and wildlife art.) During the lockdown, Romario, with the help of his parents, raised more than R30 000 for the Umgeni River Bird Park's 900 endangered birds. These, he says, are some of his best and greatest achievements.

However, just because Romario is a busy bee, his mom makes sure that his schoolwork is always up to date. He says: "My mom helps me manage my time efficiently. Over weekends, I clean the beach and work on my projects, and when I have spare time during the school week."

Hamilton is his role model

Romario is not just passionate about the environment and marine life, but also motorsport. And his favourite racing driver: Lewis Hamilton. The highly motivated boy gleefully says that he watches Formula 1 with his parents and admires Hamilton for his "champion spirit and fearless driving style". As if to say it was destiny, Hamilton announced earlier this year that he'd be entering a team in the newly found Extreme E championship in 2021.

READ: Lewis Hamilton launches an electric off-road racing team

Extreme E, founded by Alejandro Agag, the man responsible for Formula E, will race in five locations around the world to highlight the damning effects of climate change. The electric racing cars will be powered by Hydrogen Fuel Cells, given them zero carbon emissions. And if you watched Extreme E's virtual launch in October, you'd have seen Romario making an on-screen appearance and asking a very relevant, and smart, question. With Lewis being a part of Extreme E, it is right up Romario's alley and something he can't wait to see his champion excel in.

Romario says: "Lewis never gives up! He inspires me to work hard and never give up on my goals. I want to be a champion in sport and the environment. I hope one day Lewis will clean the beach with me. That would be epic!"

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