For the past couple of months we have been using our very popular night walks to raise funds for our environmental educational program, a chance to expose children who would otherwise not experience snorkeling to the amazing underwater wonderland. Thanks to your amazing support, we were able to reach our first little milestone and kick off our very first snorkel club outing this past weekend with a group of school children from Stanger
Organized in conjunction with the epic husband and wife team of Junior Gabela and Khanyo Gabela who is also an environmental officer for iLembe District and founder of the Greenstep Eco-Club. This eco club has been painstakingly nurtured by Khanyo for the past eight years ...all with the same goal as ours, exposing children to nature.
16 children from a variety of schools in the greater Stanger area experienced a morning out on the rocky shore at Chaka's Rock, between Salt Rock and Ballito. The morning included a rocky shore walk where each child was given an ID Guide to the common critters of the KZN North Coast and sent on a mission to find cool things. A treasure hunt for little people and nothing beats a child's enthusiasm for finding new things. In between the fun, Junior and Khanyo ensured that the children understood the ecological links and could associate what they were experiencing with what they were learning in school.
The amazing thing about children is that their minds are open, they're willing and open to learning new things, concepts which may go against the grain of what we normally just accept as adults, they are sponges for new information and have a natural capacity for empathy and associating with wildlife in a way that adults sometimes find difficult. These are our next generation of conservationists, these children will be left with the impacts of what we do today. We can only hope they are left with sometime good and learn to treat our environment and everything that lives in our environment a whole lot better than we do
And then it was time for the highlight of the morning, a chance to get up close and personal with marine life and go snorkeling. A quick session on using snorkeling gear, practicing breathing underwater and then time to get wet. For all of them, this was the very first time they had stuck their heads under water with a mask and snorkel, the experience was a spot scary for some but quickly turned to insane excitement at the first sight of a Parrotfish.
For some of these children, such as Zandile, pictured below not only was this their first snorkeling experience but for a couple, their very first experience of the beach, this was amazing for us, we have children who live less than 10Km's from the beach but not experienced the ocean before.....if anything a huge incentive for us to do a whole lot more of this.
.....and then of course, just enjoying the beach, enjoying the sand, enjoying the sun.
The little memory left behind on a brown paper bag sums it up ... no matter where you come from, no matter what your age or background, we all experience the same sense of joy and relaxation when we are at the beach. Perhaps the world would be a better place if everyone spent a lot more time on the beach :)
"When you sit on the beach it brings you peace, love, happiness, joy and wonderful memories"
A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to this in some way, hopefully it is something we can grow and do a lot more of, a lot more regularly with a lot more children. To find out more about our education project, our vision and how to get involved, click here