​Ocean health school trip aims to engage and empower local school children

19 November 2019

Children from Prestwich Street Primary, a school in the heart of Cape Town, were recently invited to participate in a morning of fun, learning and exploration at the Two Oceans Aquarium and on board the Seattle yacht, in the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.

Seattle Sports Commission (SSC), a nonprofit that promotes the Puget Sound as a world-class sports region, worked behind the scenes to organize for 60 local schoolchildren between the ages of eight and nine to travel to the V&A Waterfront for a full day of ocean health and marine life education. Students were joined by some of Seattle’s crew members to take part in an array of activities, which included free programming at the aquarium, a tour of the sailing yacht, and a sustainable snack.

Helen Lockhart, Communications and Sustainability Manager at Two Oceans Aquarium, said: “I think it’s fantastic that Seattle Sports Commission have approached us wanting to get involved with the Two Oceans Aquarium. It's amazing that these ocean racers from the Clipper Race are looking at ocean sustainability and that they are taking it really seriously. With Seattle’s engagement with local facilities when they are visiting ports enables the local facilities to do more to engage with the broader community.

“We are very grateful to Seattle's Sports Commission on bringing 60 children to the aquarium who had never been before.”

The Seattle team entry is raising awareness on the importance of ocean health during its 41,165 nautical mile race around the world. The Seattle yacht’s Official Partners include Holland America Line, Hyatt Regency Seattle, Port of Seattle, Visit Seattle, Waste Management and the Seattle Aquarium, who made the initial introduction between the SSC and Two Oceans. Both Seattle Team Partners and supporters hope that activations around the world will help empower our future leaders and give them the tools to make a difference in their communities.

The young children asked lots of questions and were mesmerised by all the variety and uniqueness of the sea life. Learning about plant life and ecosystems, getting up close with tanks on their desks filled with marine plants and small sea creatures, as well as getting to see the sharks, penguins, stingrays and so many other variety of life that live in the sea.

The lessons aimed to give the children an understanding of their local waters and what lies beneath the surface. There was information on kelp, that is found abundant around Cape Town, plus the uses for it and where it can be found in everyday life; they were surprised to find out that the contents of kelp are in their food and the resourcefulness of the ocean!

After this exciting exploration, they finished their experience off with a tour of the Seattle yacht. They were shown how the aspects of the yacht work and how the Clipper Race crew live on board. Actively listening to the technical details and thinking about what the crew experience. They all enjoyed imagining themselves sailing the ocean as they took to the helm.

Timothy Morgan, circumnavigator on board Seattle, who took part in the morning activities said: “The crew were also amazed by the Two Oceans Aquarium. We spend a lot of time on top of the ocean, so it was a great insight into what lives below. We were also able to give the children a tour round the yacht. Hopefully this whole experience will stay with them and they will take what they have learned forward.”

On why this was important to both himself and his fellow crew mates he said: “As we have on the side of our yacht, the oceans are our future, the next few decades are going to be a major turning point with everything from microplastics to rising water temperatures and we really need awareness now before the changes are irreversible.”

The overall experience was something that the school children will not forget and thanked Seattle Sports Commission for the enjoyable day they encountered. By connecting with the crew and learning about the sea life, they want to pass on the message about the importance of looking after the oceans and will take away from this experience to learn to care for the ocean in a new way.

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