Cape Town based environmental organisation, I AM WATER, has won the prestigious Beyond Sport “Sport for Climate Action Collective Impact Award”, supported by the Swedish Postcode Foundation, for sharing ocean conservation and snorkeling experiences with thousands of students in South Africa. Beyond Sport announced the inaugural winners of their Collective Impact Awards, a brand new initiative designed to drive collaboration between organizations using sport to achieve the UN Global Goals, in New York on 23 August, 2019.
I AM WATER founder and CEO, Hanli Prinsloo, is thrilled that their efforts are being recognised:
“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 learners 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.
In addition to following Beyond Sport’s Five Basic Principles, the entry must show that it is contributing toward one or more of the targeted outcomes for Global Goal #13 – Climate Action:
- Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning.
- Integrate climate change measures into policies, strategies and planning.
Since 2010, I AM WATER has provided global opportunities to engage and educate ocean-users with the world beneath the waves, in order to help more people understand their personal role and responsibility in protecting the planet.
I AM WATER believes in ocean conservation through transformative ocean experience. Their mission is 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 communities where, despite living walking distance to the shoreline, you often find young people who have never seen the world just beneath the waves”, says I AM WATER founder, Hanli Prinsloo.
“We work with schools located within 5 km from the ocean in under-served communities. Our primary target group is Grade 7 learners 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. Right now our work has been focused in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plein but we are excited to the Atlantic side this coming spring season.”
Why target South Africa?
- Less than 16% of youth in South Africa’s disadvantaged communities have ever worn a mask and snorkel before.
- More than 1/3 can walk to the ocean but less than 36% can swim.
Prinsloo says that the experiences are transformative in many ways: “We help children, who have feared or never experienced the ocean, to enjoy it for the first time, and to understand the importance of conservation.”
Just this last year I AM WATER has introduced over 1,700 youth from disadvantaged coastal communities to their local ocean ecosystems where they witnessed the underwater world for the very first time and got to see their kelp forests and reefs that otherwise may never have had the opportunity to see. Over 15,000 listeners have attended presentations by the I AM WATER team, sparking countless conversations about ocean conservation.
I AM WATER will be kicking off their spring season beginning of September. This year they will anticipate working with over 3000 children in the water. “We have had a super successful season of workshops (over 1700 kids did our Ocean Guardians workshops this last year Sept 2018 – April 2019) and we are gearing up for over 3000 next season, we can’t wait to see more eyes open underwater for the very first time,” comments Prinsloo.