Inspiring a lifelong love of the ocean
Unite BVI was founded by Virgin Unite and Virgin Limited Edition in 2016 to help create new opportunities for communities across the British Virgin Islands. Since its launch, Unite BVI has brought together amazing people, ideas and resources to help tackle local community and environmental challenges.
One of the amazing programmes that Unite BVI supports is Unite for the Sea, a free youth programme that sponsors fun, educational water-based activities (such as swimming, snorkelling and diving lessons).
The programme works to inspire a love for the ocean, educating the next generation of ocean conservationists as it engages with community programme partners to run sessions for young people in the BVI.
Unite BVI founded Unite for the Sea in 2019 and in 2022, gave 11 organisations grants to run water-based activities including swimming, snorkelling, diving, and boating skills through the programme.
“I can see the impact that Unite for the Sea has in the BVI when I look into the faces of the young people who have benefitted from it. The funding provided gives youngsters the added opportunity to snorkel with turtles, dive the reefs, and kayak through mangrove lagoons, often for the very first time!” said Unite BVI foundation manager, Kim Takeuchi. “It isn't just the children who benefit; I can see in the faces of parents a sense of relief and of true happiness that their young ones are being shepherded under Unite BVI's care towards a safe place to enjoy and find value in the water.
“Unite BVI has helped to replace the stigma of the ocean as a dangerous place with a new-found love for the sea and its richness. I am proud to be a part of Unite for the Sea.”
As well as giving the young people an opportunity for some fun in the water, Unite for the Sea educates them about ocean conservation. This year, Unite for the Sea has focused on ‘ghost gear’ and educating young people about the impact that discarded, lost or abandoned fishing gear can have in the marine environment.
Each year, ghost gear is responsible for trapping and killing a significant number of fish and marine animals. It can also cause further destruction by smothering coral reefs, devastating shorelines and damaging boats.
Unite for the Sea has worked with Beyond the Reef, a BVI non-profit that is working to remove thousands of pounds of ghost gear from the reefs and shorelines in the BVI. Since its launch, Beyond the Reef has cleaned nearly 50,000 feet of shoreline, and cleared 15 truckloads of plastic, fishing gear, metal and other debris from the water.
Over the last few years, other themes for the summer programme have included plastic pollution, the importance of mangroves to ocean health, and the need to protect endangered species of sea turtles.
Visit Unite for the Sea to find out more.