There’s a whole world just waiting to be discovered

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Gameema Salie

EXPLORE aquatic life by snorkelling, doing yoga on the beach and learning about how vast the ocean is with the I am Water Foundation.

Coastal schools get to experience a two-day workshop at some of Cape Town’s beaches through a fun and educational programme.

Programme director and CFO of the I am Water Foundation, Peter Marshall, said the workshops focus on basic knowledge of ecosystems and explores new ways of looking at the ocean.

“The goal of the project is to connect low-resourced and low-income communities with the ocean. South Africa has so much wilderness that people from all over the world come to see. There’s an entire wilderness story just below the waves.”

He said some of the workshops’ attractions were yoga and breathing exercises, beach clean-ups, and snorkelling.

“Kids learn about the intertidal battles between starfish and anemones. They get to see kelp and octopus along the rocky shores and snorkel in marine protected areas. They move from a real fear to a place of enjoyment and love.”

Project lead co-ordinator Amalia de Abreu said: “In those two days, we see a shift in confidence. I really respect the children. A lot of them can’t swim. By the end of the snorkelling session, they are frolicking in the water.”

The programme shows the importance of being environmentally conscious, with regular beach clean-ups, and children learn about pollution and the dangers of plastic.

“They come out of the workshop feeling like leaders, like they are guardians of the ocean and it’s their duty to protect it,” De Abreu said.

De Abreu said the project had a diverse group of coaches, to allow the kids to have role models from their own communities.

“It sparks in them the idea that the ocean is for everyone.”

Schools within a 5 to 10km radius of the ocean participate.

Deputy principal of Levana Primary School, Fadiah Abbas, whose passion is environmental education, said the project was an extension of natural sciences.

“Taking the kids out of Lavendar Hill means a lot. The project shows them there is another world out there and helps them forget their socio-economic problems. They have never worn a wetsuit before. They have never had snorkels on before. The kids really enjoy it and they are excited about the project.”

The foundation also does pop-up workshops at the weekend.

Follow @iamwater foundation on social media to find out which beach they’ll be at this month.

*This article appeared in the Jellybean Journal

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