I live on Montserrat, the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean. Growing up surrounded by natural beauty, I realized how important ocean conservation really is.
I was happy to be at this year's Ocean Heroes Bootcamp to collaborate and connect with other youth activists to learn what they are doing to protect the ocean and their local communities. The bootcamp empowers existing and emerging youth leaders to create their own campaigns to take action against ocean plastic pollution. It was so exciting to learn about ocean conservation with other young people who are just as passionate as me.
In Montserrat, I created and presented a short educational program, Ocean Discovery, held at the Public Library. My goal was to teach the local youth about the ocean, as well as it’s ongoing threat and plastic pollution crisis. In the presentations, I explained the types of fish in the Caribbean Sea – the very fish that could be affected by plastic pollution. Following the presentation, the kids participated in arts and crafts to further understand the program. From my experience with Ocean Discovery, I learned that many of the local youth were not educated on plastic pollution and the effects it has on our marine life. Additionally, the children didn’t know much about the sea below the surface. I’m hoping to change this lack of knowledge – even for young kids.
I’ve always been very interested in the ocean and often participate in snorkeling excursions with the island’s ocean group. Once during a dive, I witnessed a fish trying to eat plastic. The sight made me not only sad, but also made me aware of the work that needs to be done on ocean conservation.
During the three-day Bootcamp, I learned a wide variety of things surrounding ocean conservation. Lost Art of Love Letters’ founder Sondra Weiss' presentation focused on using art in its many forms to share a message that appeals to the audience. Her decision to use art is similar to what I was doing in the Ocean Discovery program, so it made me feel like I was on the right track. Similar to Sondra, I’m passionate about combining art with teaching, which I’m hoping to do more of.
I also learned a lot about the importance of utilizing social media. Danni Washington, founder of Big Blue & You, led a media training workshop alongside Angela Sun, producer of the National Geographic syndicated Plastic Paradise. During this panel, I learned the importance of remaining consistent on social media channels in order to create a clear goal and message for your audience. Overall this presentation was helpful for developing a communications plan to support our campaigns.
I’m thankful I had the opportunity to attend Ocean Heroes Bootcamp and I can’t wait to apply all that I’ve learned to my community and future activism.
Photos: plastic-free crafts for local kids at Ocean Discovery