BREEF’s “Resilient Blue Bahamas” programme is inspiring young people to get involved with building a more resilient Bahamas. Starting in February 2020, BREEF has delivered a curriculum-based educational model to nearly 500 students from Hugh Campbell Primary School, Bishop Michael Eldon School, Mary Star of the Sea Academy, Lucaya International School and Freeport Gospel Chapel School. The presentation and activities were designed to increase students’ awareness of climate change and the role coral reefs and mangrove wetlands play in safeguarding our islands from storms.
Hurricane Dorian was a stark reminder of how vulnerable our low-lying islands are in the face of increasingly intense hurricanes. It was also a reminder of the critical role that our nearshore ecosystems of coral reefs and mangroves play in protecting our islands and making our country more resilient. Coral reefs can break wave energy by 97% and the flexible prop roots of the red mangroves absorb wave energy and serve as a buffer between land and sea.
BREEF’s Education Coordinator stated: “BREEF recognizes the critical role that young people have in conserving the Bahamian marine environment and developed the “Resilient Blue Bahamas” project to support their recovery and ongoing efforts to restore and protect these ecosystems that protect us. I was impressed with the students’ attentiveness, questions, and positive attitudes.”
When asked to share her thoughts about the project, Freeport Gospel Chapel School teacher and Eco-Schools coordinator Ms. Helen P. Tynes said, “Bahamians are known as a resilient set of people and in light of what our country recently experienced with hurricane Dorian there is an urgent need to educate our children on ways to protect and preserve the earth that we have borrowed from them.”
In addition to learning about several human threats to coral reefs and mangroves, students were able to view video messages of solidarity and empathy from other Eco-Schools students in The Bahamas and around the world supporting the Children for Children Campaign. The Children for Children Campaign was initiated by BREEF and the Foundation for Environmental Education last November to support the 12 Eco-Schools in Grand Bahama and Abaco that were impacted by hurricane Dorian.
In order to assist schools with recovering educational materials that were lost in the hurricane, BREEF gave each school laminated copies of the “Life in the Bahamian Mangrove Creek” educational posters and copies of BREEF’s Educator Toolkit, “Corals, Consumer & Climate Change,” and “Life on the Bahamian Coral Reef” Educators Guide to the Virtual Coral Reef Field Trip. BREEF will continue to provide additional educational materials to schools impacted by Hurricane Dorian in Grand Bahama and Abaco, including laminated fish, coral, and mangrove identification slates.
Speaking about the programme, Luke Hopper, Assistant Head Teaching and Learning at Lucaya International School said, “Thank you for further developing and setting the local context in terms of the opportunities and threats facing the vital ecosystems of the Bahamas.”
According to Cam Chandler, a student at Lucaya International School, “It was an enjoyable and educational presentation. It was really nice to learn about something we had studied in depth, with more local and specific details. We also enjoyed the personalized setting.”
The Resilient Blue Bahamas Project is made possible through the generous assistance of the Moore Bahamas Foundation, the Lyford Cay Foundation and the many donors who continue to support BREEF’s hurricane recovery efforts.