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Non-Profit Organization Connects SA Children to the Sea

  • 6 min read

Cape Town-based environmental non-profit organization, I AM WATER, has partnered with renowned sports foundation, Beyond Sport, and five other international sporting organisations, in a global, “Sport for Climate Action Collective Impact Campaign”, using sport to raise awareness about key environmental issues and sustainability. Each of the organisations involved will run a campaign that contributes to the greater goals in terms of their sporting code in their respective countries.

I AM WATER will drive an awareness and fundraising campaign from South Africa, that includes a call to members of the public to sponsor children from low-resourced coastal communities, to participate in I AM WATER’s conservation and snorkel workshops.

I AM WATER’s contribution to the campaign will be focused on getting more under-resourced children connected to the ocean and aware of marine conservation, by letting them experience the sea firsthand.

“We take sponsored learners on our two-day Ocean Guardians snorkelling workshops to spark a connection and love for the sea and its creatures, inspiring participants to be more conservation-minded and to want to take care of the oceans,” says Hanli Prinsloo, freediver and founder of I AM WATER.

“We feel especially passionate about working with low-resourced, low-income, coastal communities where, despite living walking distance to the shoreline, we often find young people who have never seen the world just beneath the waves,” says Prinsloo.

“Sport is a powerful tool for positive social change in communities around the world. Sports are  also impacted by climate change and in turn, can galvanise action to counter the associated negative environmental impacts of human behaviour in their fans and participants.”

I AM WATER, the only South African organisation chosen to participate in the global campaign, is specifically focused on using ocean experiences and education linked to creating awareness about marine conservation in relation to issues such as pollution, poaching, and climate change.

How it works

“We work with schools located within 10 km from the ocean in under-served communities. Our primary target group is Grade 7 learners and our groups are a maximum of 24 participants, with the goal to work with all the Grade 7 pupils in a particular school each year. Right now our work has been focused in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain, but we plan to do more on the Atlantic side and up the West Coast going forward.”

“Seeing children experience the underwater life of the ocean for the first time is wonderful, especially if they come from underserved communities, and have had little access to the sea before.”

“Our Ocean Guardians School Workshops involve two days spent at the beach practising yoga-inspired stretching & breath work & mindfulness, learning about the marine ecosystems and ocean challenges, the human body’s unique adaptation to being underwater and exploring the intertidal zones and rock pools with marine experts. The highlight of the workshops is the time spent snorkelling. Learning how to be confident in deeper water, swim safely, understand the ocean better and of course, see the incredible life our ocean holds. From majestic kelp forests to octopus, small shy sharks, brightly coloured urchins and anemones, to an array of fish species.” 

About I AM WATER’s work

Since 2010, I AM WATER has provided global opportunities to engage and educate ocean users about the world beneath the waves, in order to help more people understand their personal role and responsibility in protecting the planet. In addition, their Coaches Programme has upskilled over 100 ocean users from the same communities, to teach the workshops alongside marine scientists, and they currently have 36 active coaches involved in the programmes.

I AM WATER believes in ocean conservation through transformative ocean experiences. Their mission is to foster physical and emotional connections to marine environments, especially in the youth, building understanding about the interdependence between humans and healthy oceans, and encouraging them to protect the oceans, globally.

Prinsloo says that the experiences are transformative in many ways: “We help children, who have feared or never experienced the ocean, to enjoy it for the first time, and to understand the importance of conservation.”

Since its inception, I AM WATER has reached over 5,839 school learners from low-resourced, low-income, coastal communities to ocean ecosystems through snorkelling, where they witnessed the underwater marine life, kelp forests and reefs for the very first time.  Over 17233 school learners have attended presentations by the I AM WATER  team in the School Speaking Series, sparking conversations and interest from the youth in ocean conservation.

Why target South Africa?
●        Less than 16% of youth in South Africa’s disadvantaged communities have ever worn a mask and snorkel before.
●        More than 1/3 can walk to the ocean but less than 36% can swim.

Help I AM WATER to inspire more young Ocean Guardians! 

Join I AM WATER’s global initiative to inspire youth from low-resourced coastal communities to connect with the ocean and understand marine conservation.

Your support empowers I AM WATER with the resources needed to reach the youth and give them the experience. Your gift provides masks, snorkels, wetsuits, transport, coaching support, and all the behind-the-scenes work our team does to connect with our network of Primary Schools and community leaders.

I AM WATER is a registered NPO/PBO in South Africa, a 501-C(3) in the USA with tax benefits in both countries as well as a trusted charity with Charities Aid Foundation for our UK & European donors wishing for tax-deductible giving.

Please email for more information on tax-deductible giving, or click below to donate via GivenGain or PayPal

For more information visit the website:

About Beyond Sport

Beyond Sport celebrates, supports, raises awareness and provides funding for organizations that are using sport to help make the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a reality.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The Beyond Sport Global Awards are aligned with these Global Goals.

All of the six organisations participating in the campaign have previously won the prestigious Beyond Sport “Sport for Climate Action Collective Impact Award”, supported by the Swedish Postcode Foundation.

Cape Town based environmental organisation, I AM WATER, won the prestigious Beyond Sport “Sport for Climate Action Collective Impact Award” in 2019, supported by the Swedish Postcode Foundation, for sharing ocean conservation and snorkelling experiences with thousands of students in South Africa.