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Janis Theron"A healthy ocean is vital in safeguarding the planet from the worst effects of climate change." Do you ever walk along the beach and find yourself picking up straws, sucker sticks, plastic bags, pegs, containers and things? I do! Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing challenges facing the ocean. We all know that large corporations and commercial businesses create far too much plastic, BUT it is in our power as the consumer to say NO. "It is the responsibility of all of us to do what we can to reduce the damaging effects that plastic pollution has on the ocean," says education and communications manager for I AM WATER, Katherine Wallis. To this end, the average consumer can be more mindful of their consumption. It doesn't matter from whence we come, but we can all do something in our own contexts to reduce, reuse and recycle, which looks different to everyone.
Says Wallis: "We can all continue to highlight the ways in which we as humans are connected to the natural environment, we are all part of the same ecosystem. What the environment experiences, we will also experience."
This story is about I AM WATER. Tucked away in the deep south of Cape Town hides a fantastic initiative that nurtures a new community of conservationists from low-income communities. "Each of us has a story to tell about why we work to protect the world's oceans... Our blue planet may be divided by continents, but it is united by oceans." I AM WATER believes that young people who spend time in nature experience healthy emotional development while learning how to love every nuance, every living thing in nature. This registered NPO is the brainchild of passionate free diver and ocean advocate Hanli Prinsloo, who started the organisation in 2010. Hanli learned at an early age about the beauty, fragility and importance of wilderness thanks to her childhood on a horse farm outside Johannesburg. Her true passion is now ocean conservation, and she holds 11 South African free diving records!
I AM WATER is on a mission to highlight the fact that humanity cannot survive without nature, and nature cannot survive unless we radically change our behaviour. Their vision is to ignite a movement of "blue minds" across the planet. This means facilitating physical and emotional connections to the aquatic environment, understanding the interdependence of healthy humans and healthy oceans, and influencing behaviours to protect our global seas. Research shows that when young people experience something transformative, they change. An ocean experience for someone who grew up in a concrete urban area is transformative. A game reserve safari for someone who grew up in a township is transformative. A hike up Table Mountain is transformative. Something is switched on, and something connects. We are all part of nature! Wallis says I AM WATER runs Ocean Guardians Workshops, hosting Grade 7 students on ocean explorations to foster a sense of ocean stewardship. They have recently launched the new River Guardians workshops, using citizen science as a tool to highlight the connection between river health, ocean health and human health. The School Speaking Series is about sharing with schools the gifts the ocean gives us, the challenges the ocean faces and actionable solutions to these challenges. Climate change is real and an issue that the entire human race must face. Wallis notes that the I AM WATER ocean stewardship programme contributes to the mitigation of climate change by facilitating a more profound awareness of ocean and environmental health and the value of our natural resources – not only in terms of money but also in terms of a spiritual necessity for humankind. You can learn more about the I Am Water Foundation on the following links: https://www.facebook.com/IAMWATEROceanConservation https://www.instagram.com/iamwater_foundation/ https://twitter.com/IAMWATER_ocean https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqnwJawCm3O126ZmkyD7c_w
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