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Local NPO I Am Water wins award for sharing ocean conservation with youth

Cape Town-based environmental organisation I Am Water provides opportunities for South African youths to engage with and learn about the world beneath the waves. Photo: Supplied

Cape Town-based environmental organisation I Am Water provides opportunities for South African youths to engage with and learn about the world beneath the waves. Photo: Supplied

Published Sep 16, 2019


Cape Town – Locally based environmental organisation I Am Water has won the Beyond Sport award for sharing ocean conservation and snorkelling experiences with thousands of youth in South Africa.

Beyond Sport announced the inaugural winners of its collective impact awards, a new initiative designed to drive collaboration between organisations using sport to achieve the UN Global Goals, in New York.

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I Am Water founder and chief executive Hanli Prinsloo said: “We are wired to protect what we love and it is so impactful to educate the youth in marine conservation through transformational ocean experiences.

“We take pupils on our two-day ocean guardians snorkelling workshops to spark a connection and love for the sea and its creatures, inspiring participants to be more conservation-minded and to want to take care of the oceans.”

The Sport for Climate Action Collective Impact Award, supported by the Swedish Postcode Foundation, is for any non-profit team, league, governing body or corporation using sport to address climate change, reduce emissions, and advocate for sustainable policy across the world.

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According to I Am Water, fewer than 16% of youth in South Africa’s disadvantaged communities have ever worn a mask and snorkel, and fewer than 36% can swim.

Since 2010, the organisation has provided global opportunities to engage and educate beachgoers and ocean-users with the world beneath the waves, their mission being to ignite a movement of blue minds across the planet, to facilitate physical and emotional connections to the aquatic environment, to build understanding of the interdependence of healthy humans and healthy oceans and to influence behaviours to protect our global seas.

“We are passionate about working with underprivileged coastal

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communities where, despite living within walking distance of the shoreline, you often find young people who have never seen the world just beneath the waves.

“We work with schools located within 5km from the ocean in under-served communities.

“Our primary target group is Grade7 pupils and our groups are a maximum of 24 participants, with the goal to work with all the Grade 7 pupils in a particular school each year.

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“Right now our work has been focused in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain, but we are excited for the

Atlantic side this coming spring season.”

Prinsloo added that the experiences were transformative in many ways.

In the past year, the organisation had introduced more than 1 700 youth from disadvantaged coastal communities to their local ocean ecosystems.

More than 15 000 listeners had attended presentations by the I Am Water team, sparking countless conversations about ocean conservation.

This year, they are expecting to work with more than 3 000 children in the water.

“We have had a super successful season of workshops (with) more than 1 700 kids doing our ocean guardians workshops this last year, Sept 2018 to April 2019, and we are gearing up for more than 3 000 next season. We can’t wait to see more eyes open underwater for the very first time.”

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