NPO seeks to help vulnerable Hout Bay youth swim against the tide of their realities
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Cape Town - A local non-profit organisation, Sentinel Ocean Alliance (SOA), is encouraging at-risk youth from Hout Bay to swim against the tide of their realities in underprivileged coastal communities and participate in their immersive programmes promoting ocean-based opportunities and environmental education.
SOA operations director Marguerite Kimberley said their mission was to address some of the disparities between advantaged and disadvantaged communities by creating opportunities for under-served coastal communities and at-risk youth at Hout Bay.
“In order to change mindsets and behaviours, and uplift and empower local communities, in partnership with international organisation Parley, Sentinel Ocean Alliance has established the first permanent Parley Ocean School in Hout Bay,” said Kimberley.
The operations director said the programmes offered at the Parley Ocean School enabled local children to learn about the marine environment, the threats that oceans are facing, and what can be done to save them while instilling a love for the ocean and its preservation.
SOA founder and big wave surfer Frank Solomon said: “South Africa is one of the most divided countries in the world when it comes to wealth and education. Our focus is to educate, create opportunities and raise awareness around marine plastic pollution. Together as a community we can make an impact.”
One of SOA’s success stories was documented in a short film titled Luciano, which followed how young Luciano Pelston from Hangberg managed to steer his life away from gangsterism and drugs towards something much more meaningful and door-opening through joining the Hout Bay Surf Lifesaving Club at SOA.
Pelston is now the Hout Bay Surf Lifesaving Club vice-captain and encourages many of the younger children in the fishing community of Hangberg to join SOA.
Kimberley said about 300 children from underprivileged coastal communities attended programmes at SOA each week.
Despite living so close to water, many children were still unable to swim. In order to reduce the risk of ocean drownings and to encourage more youth to join them, Kimberley said SOA had come up with their immersive swimming Turn the Tide programme to teach children to swim in the oceans and other bodies of water, such as rivers, closest to them.
“Through educating and empowering the youth through their programmes, SOA’s aim is to change the trajectory of the lives of the children who take part in them, inspire marine conservation and empower its next generation of leaders,” she said.