Sunday 29 November, 2020

Ocean Heroes Network launches first Regional Bootcamp in the Caribbean

Ocean Heroes Network is launching its first-ever Ocean Heroes regional Bootcamp (OHrBC) in the Caribbean in partnership with local youth and NGOs.

The free event will take place virtually on December 6 and December 11-13, 2020.

Youth ages 11-18 living across all 36 Caribbean nations and territories will gather to explore and discuss pressures and challenges facing the health of the Caribbean Sea and our shared ocean.

The four-day regional Bootcamp comes off the heels of a successful global Ocean Heroes virtual Bootcamp (OHvBC) in June, which engaged 400 youth from 36 countries. This Caribbean-focused, regional camp is developed, organized and led by local youth including Ocean Heroes Dejea Lyons, Steff McDermot and Ben Somerville. Hosted by Caribbean organizations Plastic Free Cayman and Protect Our Future, this camp will address concerns unique to participants’ own island nations and territories, as well as those they have in common.

“Since attending the first Ocean Heroes Bootcamp in New Orleans in 2018, I became interested in bringing youth programming back home,” says Steff McDermot, OHrBC Caribbean Coordinator from the Cayman Islands. “It’s a dream come true to lead the development of Ocean Heroes Bootcamp to inspire love for one another by engaging with the cultural and marine bonds that connect our Caribbean Nations.”

Youth will collaborate with existing and emerging youth leaders, NGOs, scientists and policymakers in the Caribbean region to learn critical campaigning skills and will have the opportunity to join forces to develop individual or collective campaigns and action plans. OHrBC will focus on three core areas: plastic pollution (led by Bill LaMonte of Plastic Free Cayman), ocean connection through awareness and engagement (led by Veta Wade of Fish N’ Fins), and biodiversity and marine conservation (led by Weldon Wade of Guardians of the Reef). Over the course of the regional Bootcamp experience, youth will participate in:

- Cross country bonding;
- Mentorship through Squad Leader meetings and office hours with experts and other youth;
- Campaign development through virtual panels;
- Keynote speaker sessions;
And more.

Prior to the regional Bootcamp’s kick-off, youth participants are paired with a “Squad Leader,” an experienced peer mentor who has already achieved success launching and running a transformative campaign, who will support each other as they engage in group discussions and work together to develop successful campaigns. Once completing OHrBC in the Caribbean, participants will become part of the global Ocean Heroes Network—a force of more than 1,500 young people from more than 50 nations committed to campaigning year-round for ocean health.

“Young people who are armed with the tools to create systemic change, whether at the global or grassroots level, have no limit to the issues they can solve,” says Leesa Carter-Jones, President and CEO of Captain Planet Foundation and Founding Partner of the Ocean Heroes Network.

“For two years, Ocean Heroes have been trained on tackling plastic pollution at a global scale, and our hope is that through regional Bootcamps, youth can discover and take hold of issues unique to their region and connect the dots to make real, lasting change in their communities.”

Every year, 11 million metric tons of plastic waste enter the ocean—on track to triple by 2040 without concerted global efforts to stop it. In the Caribbean specifically, native mangroves and coral reefs could help protect more than a quarter of people at risk by serving as a buffer between coastal communities and ocean waves or flooding, and by significantly reducing erosion.

“Youth know the issues in their communities best and have the foresight to know that if they don’t take action, their future is at stake,” says Dune Ives, CEO of Lonely Whale, Founding Partner of Ocean Heroes Network. “The next generation of Caribbean youth is working together to protect their marine habitats and are working together for the future they want and the future they deserve: a future with clean seas.”

Additional support for OHrBC is being provided through an advisory council of youth and NGOs from across the Caribbean. This program is being offered in English. Internet access and an internet-enabled device will be necessary to participate. Participation is free.

Youth interested in participating can register here. Registration closes November 30, 2020.

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