From Water Safety to Watery Careers
***Winner of the Federation of Austrian-Foreign Societies – Partner of all Nations (PaN) Prize***
Project Neptune emerges from an educational blend of environmental conservation, heritage preservation, and water safety. The programme focuses on young children and elders whose families were forcibly removed from coastal communities under the Group Areas Act of South Africa’s then Apartheid Government, breaking their strong connection to the ocean and ocean-life. Our aim is to reconnect young and old with the wonder of the ocean through education, awareness and practical skills-building. Project Neptune has two key elements, Water Safety (Drowning Prevention, Survival Swimming and Learn-to-Swim) and Careers within the Ocean Realm, and is a collaboration between project partners: Guardians of the Deep, Simon’s Town Museum, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), ARKYS Outreach NPC and Generation Schools Imhoff.
Participants of this programme will be exposed to a variety of subjects, activities, and information about our local history and environment. It is an extracurricular programme that aims to stimulate and cultivate a connection to our natural surroundings, as one species within a broader socio-cultural ecosystem. The learning experience is meant to be hands-on, interactive and experiential.
“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever“
– Jacques Yves Cousteau
We are planning, on 12 April 2024, a Marine Careers Expo at the Imhoff Campus of Generation Schools to expose students to the many career opportunities available in the Ocean Realm. Students will therefore be able to plan their high school subject choices and tertiary education options while also viewing internships, grants and scholarships.
Aims and Objectives
- Reduce the number of drownings amongst learners under the age of 18
- Reconnect learners to the marine environment
- Cultivate respect and compassion towards nature and each other
- Encourage responsibility amongst learners to take care of the environment for peaceful coexistence
- Encourage and expose learners to career and study paths within the marine fields
- Connect similar programmes already being run in the Western Cape, with schools directly
- Develop a core group of partners to plan, implement and deliver programmes that have a direct impact on communities that do not always have access to resources and infrastructure for learning to swim
- Share resources, skills, and programmes amongst this core organising group to deliver projects that benefit learners
Our vision for this project is for it to be expanded to be able to accommodate 60 students every term, working through grades 1-12 from schools in Ocean View, Masiphumelele, Simon’s Town and the greater Cape Flats region. We also aim to include seniors’ clubs from these areas. Our goal is to partner with schools and civic organisations with pools in these and neighbouring communities to minimise transport costs and maximise time available for the lessons. All swimmers will be assessed by NSRI and those who show exemplary ability will be given the opportunity to compete and later join the organisation as lifeguards and rescue swimmers.
After learning to swim and gaining confidence in a swimming pool, as well as growing their knowledge of cultural heritage and ocean conservation, our next phase strives to introduce the new swimmers to the Great African Sea Forest through building their snorkelling and freediving skills as well as ocean safety with Bodyboarding South Africa.
In order to get Project Neptune off the ground and into the communities, we are volunteering our time and transport but, for this project to be sustainable, we are appealing for assistance with transport, either through the provision of the use of a bus or as a monetary donation. We will also be raising the necessary funds and collecting equipment donations to equip the swimmers with swim caps, suits and towels as well as a small Project Neptune kit bag.
ARKYS Outreach Project Coordinator: Sally Sivewright
Ocean Safety with Bodyboarding South Africa and NSRI
On Monday, 9 October 2023, the Project Neptune swimmers from Kleinberg Primary School embarked on their first field trip to celebrate the end of a successful term of survival swimming, and environmental conservation and historical education. Project partner, Generation Schools Imhoff, supplied their buses and drivers to transport the swimmers and coaches for their outing. First stop, Surfers’ Corner in Muizenberg and Aden Kleve of Bodyboard South Africa. Aden quickly escorted us across the road to the Reef Shop SA where our soon-to-be bodyboarders were beautifully kitted out.
The wind was blowing onshore, the sun was shining and the waves were plentiful. National Sea Rescue Institute Of SA‘s Drowning Prevention Coach Zakariyyaa Abrahams gave a brief water safety talk, in which he gave our learners a crash course on what to do if they see someone in distress, or find themselves stuck in a rip current. Coach Megan (from Guardians of the Deep) and Coach Taufeeqah helped the kids to collect nurdles and other small pieces of plastic debris, to ensure that we left the space cleaner than we found it.
Thank you ARKYS Outreach NPC, our already mentioned partners and sponsors, and our volunteer coaches for making this possible
Photos taken by Daniel Grebe
Kleinberg Primary at Generation Schools Imhoff
Kleinberg and Kommetjie Primary Schools
Tembo Mentors and Project KNEXS Elders Learn-to-Swim
On a very cold day in December 2022 we collaborated with Simon’s Town Museum and NSRI to offer a learn-to-swim session to the Tembo Mentors and Project KNEXS Elders from ARKYS Outreach NPC. All participants braved the chilly Cape waters and inspired us to extend the programme to schools and seniors clubs of Ocean View and Masiphumelele.