5 Minute Beach Cleanup Foundation (5MBCF) in partnership with Eco Schools Puerto Rico commits to educate 1,380 elementary students from 23 public and private schools in Puerto Rico through the Ocean Heroes program, an educational program focused on empowering students to lead ocean conservation efforts in their communities to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle and reduce their footprint.
Ocean Heroes is a one-week course that includes five one-hour educational sessions to be delivered by teachers at schools in Puerto Rico. This commitment will be implemented by two 5MBCF staff and five Eco Schools instructors over the period of eight months (April 1st – November 30th, 2020).
To carry out this project, 5MBCF will work closely with Eco Schools Puerto Rico to identify 23 schools in their network and provide teachers with the necessary tools to educate their students on: (1) the importance of the oceans, and why humans depend on them (2) plastic pollution in the oceans, and (3) how each student can become an agent of change so that he or she can impact his or her family and their community.
Program training and materials, including five videos/multimedia teaching resources, will be provided to 46 Science and English teachers across the schools. During the initial recruitment and training, 5MBCF will adjust the program’s curriculum to meet the needs of specific areas and schools to ensure social and cultural alignment. To increase 5MBCF’s online presence, they will create a website for teachers to access teaching materials including media kits and videos for each educational session. At the end of this program, all students will receive an Ocean Heroes Program Certificate. In addition, 5MBCF will document the overall program results through an audiovisual sample that will be shared online.
5MBCF will execute this program over the course of eight months in collaboration with Eco Schools.
During the first two months (April – May), Eco Schools will support the recruitment of 23 schools to participate in the Ocean Heroes program. During this time, 5MBCF will adapt the program to Puerto Rico’s culture and language, prepare the first two videos/multimedia resources for the program. By the end of this period, 5MBCF will carry out the training of Eco School’s five personnel that will oversee training the teachers from the schools.
During the third and fourth month (June – July), there is a pause due to school holidays and by the end of this period, 5MBCF aims to launch the website for the program as well as finish the other three videos/multimedia resources.
During the fifth month (August), Eco Schools will carry out the training for the first 20 teachers of the private/public schools and support the first 5 schools in the adoption of the program.
During the sixth, seventh and eight months (September – November), the program will be delivered to the remaining 26 teachers and the other 18 schools and the results will be documented.
Throughout the entire program, 5MBCF will create educational digital content for the web page to elevate the program.
It’s been predicted that if immediate action is not taken, “there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050” (Ellen Mc Carter Foundation). Statistics also indicate that in 2020, more virgin plastic will be produced than in 2019. Generally, the entire world lacks effective waste collection systems. These statistics are far from encouraging the preservation and protection of the health of oceans and marine ecosystems.
Millions of people are ingesting plastic through food, salt, and chemicals from the plastic itself. The world is facing a serious plastic pollution crisis affecting humans, marine life, and the oceans. Studies have also found that the Caribbean countries are the worst plastic pollutants in the world per capita. While many efforts have been made to address this, such as people mobilizing to collect garbage from beaches, government initiatives to improve waste collection systems, and companies incorporating recycled materials to supplant virgin ones, it is still not enough. Plastic continues to reach our shores in greater quantity, our society continues to consume without limits and generate garbage without environmental responsibility or aid from the government.
In addition to the challenges around pollution, there is also a huge knowledge gap on this subject in all educational systems, and particularly in primary schools. This gap persists because of a lack of knowledge in three areas: (1) the importance of the oceans, and human interdependence on them, (2) an understanding of the plastic-marine pollution crisis, and (3) information about how each person’s actions can help impact the health of the oceans and therefore, the planet.
5 Minute Beach Cleanup Foundation (5MBCF) has administered a program, Ocean Heroes, for primary school students in Costa Rica to learn about how they can be agents of change in addressing the challenges that come from pollution. 5MBCF aims to expand upon this program to reach more students, and reach areas in the Caribbean, where this education is critical.
For the Ocean Heroes Program, the 5MBCF is seeking financial resources for multimedia material and the implementation of the program in Puerto Rico including a new website, social media channels, and operational expenses. The team is also seeking local implementing partners to expand this program to reach primary school students across Puerto Rico and the Caribbean region.
All the videos/multimedia resources can be utilized to educate kids all over the world through the website. For anyone interested in bringing the Ocean Heroes Program to a new jurisdiction, the 5MBCF team would be interested in expanding the program to reach more students and sharing findings from this program in Puerto Rico and results from other areas.