(CMR) Fifty secondary school students participated in Plastic Free Cayman's first Youth Environmental Sail on Sunday to learn, network, and create new environmental campaigns that they can pitch to political representatives after the April election.
Students were educated by experts in the field during the sailing trip to Stingray City, Starfish Point, and Boobie Cay. They were also joined by local musical artists Jen Wardman and Nickapella to discuss the power of media and music as platforms for change.
Organizers said the original sail was scheduled as part of Plastic Free Cayman’s Youth Summit in April of last year, but it too was thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in December, Plastic Free Cayman partnered with Ocean Heroes Bootcamp to design a virtual regional conference for Caribbean youth. The conference tackled many environmental issues, including plastic pollution, mangrove destruction, and coral reef bleaching.
It was a successful event that jump-started many campaigns in the region. To celebrate its success and to encourage more youth involvement, Plastic Free Cayman hosted Sunday's sail.
Plastic Free Cayman (PFC) said although the organization sponsored the event, it was youth-focused, allowing youth leaders to share their wisdom and views throughout the trip.
Organizers of the event said even with plastic pollution on the rise, the continued loss of mangrove wetlands due to unsustainable development, and the spread of the stony coral disease, the youth remained hopeful.
“Some aim to develop policy to discontinue sunscreen that is unsafe for our reefs. Others aspire to develop a stronger anti-littering campaign. But most students echoed the importance for all people living in Cayman to begin respecting the beauty of our islands, educating themselves about its ecosystems, and do their personal best to protect them,” PFC stated
Dejea Lyons (18) and leader of Protect Our Futurenoted how “inspiring it is to see so many young Caymanians come together for a common cause.”
Ben Somerville (18), National Geographic Young Explorer, said, “this is just the beginning.”
He encouraged students to “keep networking and reach out for support. Sometimes campaigns can also take unexpected turns.”
In Ocean Hero Bootcamp style, Steff McDermot, leader of Sail for Climate Action, reminded the students that they “have the power to make real change in our world!” and urged them to “Take action!”
The campaign was in collaboration with Protect Our Future, The Mangrove Rangers, Ecodivers, Raid Sail Water Sports, The Caribbean Tree Planting Project, The Captain Planet Foundation, and Ocean Heroes Bootcamp.