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PLANET SAVER PROFILEMalecia WilliamsJanis Theron"The best part about working for I AM WATER is that I get to work alongside amazing individuals who love the ocean just as much as I do, coming together to share our ocean love with the kids while exploring the beautiful underwater world together." Our planet saver for this edition of Xtinct is an inspiring young woman who works for an ocean-saving NPO based in Kalk Bay, Cape Town, called I AM WATER. Malecia Williams (28) says that a planet saver is someone who tries their utmost to do their part by helping preserve the planet and being part of the change. She is right. Malecia is the lead coordinator, and coach at I AM WATER. This organisation works with the children of Cape Town to understand how the ocean directly impacts their lives and how humankind cannot survive without nature, and nature cannot survive unless we radically change our behaviour.
For many of these children, the thought of the ocean raises feelings of fear, doubt or unattainable joy. Some live within walking distance of the ocean but only know about the beach or the big blue ocean in the distance. I AM WATER opens eyes in unique ways, and kids literally open their eyes underwater for the first time, gaining confidence. Ecological eyes are also opened, fostering compassion for all living things while contributing to inclusivity and ocean stewardship.
Malecia strives to keep kids safe during workshops and ensure smooth operation and transitioning within workshop stations. She also needs to ensure that all children understand the vision of I AM WATER so they can share that information with family and friends.
She is the perfect candidate for this post, having grown up as a twin with two elder brothers right here in Muizenberg, Cape Town. "Working for I AM WATER has been an absolutely humbling and fulfilling journey for me, giving back to my community and then also becoming more connected to the ocean and the environment around me," she says. "Being on this journey has improved my communication and leadership skills. I love the spirit of coming together as a team to share our knowledge and love for the ocean with the kids, while also having an amazing experience exploring the underwater world together".
Research is increasingly showing that children who spend a lot of time out in nature want to be out in nature as they grow older, taking part in natural pursuits. This promotes a healthier adult who is mentally, physically, and emotionally more stable than others who spend less time in nature. Says Dr Jim Taylor: "Children love the Earth. They really do hug trees. Kids care in the purest and sweetest way for birds, flowers, plants, and animals. To see children smell a flower, marvel at a bee buzzing around them, and jump with joy at seeing a deer are just a few of the ways that children express their connection, love, and awe for Mother Nature. They wouldn't want to do anything to harm it."
Malecia is one of these transformed and transformational children. "My love for the ocean has grown and I feel a lot more connected to the ocean and the environment around me. I have become more conscious about the decisions I make that could be harmful to the environment." She feels that we all need to take the consequences of climate change seriously. "I feel like we as individuals can contribute so much to stop climate change, but I think more people should be made aware about the issues relating to climate change so that we can come together to heal the earth." For Malecia, plastic pollution is our most pressing environmental challenge globally and in South Africa. She refuses plastic bags, buys eco-friendly products and eats more sustainably.