Sea the Change Youth Summit Debrief
By Tiara Supakit & Megan Phung of Valley Academy’s Mermaid Squad
With contributions from Andrea Ignacio of Hollywood High’s Key Club
Check out what 45 student leaders got up to at the winter youth summit and learn how to join two Ocean Solutions Contests with cash prizes.
On Sunday, 29 January, 2017, the Mermaid Squad participated in the Sea the Change Youth Summit event at Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. At the event, we had the opportunity to do many activities such as a beach cleanup and trash analysis. The event also included a contest introduction, listening to the guest speakers from local community organizations, and breakout sessions that helped us start our artwork.
When we first arrived at the event, we had an opportunity to eat free food and explore the aquarium until the rest of the volunteers arrived. Then, we had a quick talk in the presentation room and took to the beach where we got to know each other a bit. While outside, we were given buckets and gloves for the beach cleanup which continued for an hour. Finding strange pieces of trash during the beach cleanup was very enjoyable. Megan’s volunteer group found a “squishy thing” and my group found mascara. In total, everyone collected over a 1,500 pieces of trash in 15 minutes.
I want to just share the amazing experience I had at the Heal the Bay Youth Summit that took place at the Santa Monica Aquarium! I have to say, it was an amazing experience because not only was I and another member of my club (plus my advisor) able to know more of what Heal the Bay does, but we were also able to do some on hands work!
I learned about ocean pollution which was incredible due to all the guest speakers that came out to draw our attention to help make a difference. I have to say, actually cleaning up and interacting with others during the cleanup was a great way to get out of my comfort zone. After seeing how much trash all the groups collected within 15 minutes, it truly showed how harmed our environment is. This not only made me more aware of my surroundings but also made me speak up by participating in the Ocean Pollution contests.
I will not forget this youth summit, for it opened my eyes to new opportunities to make a difference in the world and that is something I wish everyone would experience, I felt like a new and better person.
– Andrea Ignacio, Hollywood High Key Club
After the cleanup, each group of volunteers made a poster which raised awareness of ocean pollution and brought in solutions so that we knew what we could do to help. Finally, we went back to the aquarium and listened to people from Club Heal the Bay, 5 Gyres, Team Marine, the Animo Leadership Marine Bio Club, and the ACE Recycle Club talk about what they have done over the year. We also learned how we could join two Ocean Solutions contests—the Ocean Awareness Contest by Bow Seat and the Sea the Change Contest by Club Heal the Bay. (Visit the Sea the Change page for details on how to join.)
In the end, I felt mind blown. Ocean pollution seemed to be a smaller problem than I had originally anticipated. With all the solutions given to the volunteers and all the new knowledge presented, I felt determined to do something. After the event, we realized that ocean pollution can be solved if each and every one of us continue to keep working together.