Challenge Wales’ work over the last couple of years in sustainability has been recognised at a UK industry conference with the Charity winning the Environmental Excellence Award.
Sail trainers from all over the UK, headed to Portsmouth at the end of January for the annual UK Sail Training Association annual conference. An opportunity to share knowledge, learn and collaborate.
The Environmental Excellence Award recognised Challenge Wales’ work over the past couple of years in the field of sustainablity. So what has Challenge Wales been doing which makes it stand out…
Since 2018 when Dee Caffari, Skipper of the Volvo Ocean Race yacht ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’ launched Challenge Wales’ Agored Cymru accredited environmental learning programme, the Challenge Wales charity has been going from strength to strength raising awareness of sustainability and ocean literacy amongst young people, adult sailors, supporters and its volunteers through collaboration, communication and sharing learning.
Last year Challenge Wales launched the nationally recognised John Muir Environmental Award that anyone attending a 4 day or longer voyage can achieve which is aimed at increasing everyone’s knowledge of environmental awareness. Collaboration with various stakeholders has been key to developing Challenge Wales’ activities and this has included;
* Talks and quizes from Severn Estuary Partnership on marine litter in our sailing area
* Cardiff University providing Challenge Wales with microscope training for looking at plankton
*Boatfolk Penarth Marina providing staff to talk about the Marina’s SeaBin initiative which sees microplastic and oil being skimmed off the surface of the marina
*Citizen Science activities with Plymouth University looking at water visibility
*Undertaking microplastic surveys in conjunction with Portsmouth University
*Learning about Ecosystems with the warden at Lundy Island
* Boatfolk marinas invited one of our Trustees to speak at the Southampton Boat Show to share their ocean literacy activities
But the activities don’t stop there. Challenge Wales launched a Sea and Tell programme which provides short shore-based sessions introducing young people to ocean literacy, marine litter, STEM subjects and geography. This has worked well for those who are aged 10+.
Plus as part of the learning activities we get young people on the boat doing a ‘sustainability review’ to look at how we as an organising our using plastic and how we can change that.
Vicky Williams, Trustee said; “Winning the Environmental Excellence Award is a great recognition of what we have been doing. The world of ocean literacy has certainly opened up our volunteers, young people and sea staff eyes to the issues facing the world”.
Mark Todd, CEO of UK Association of Sail Training Organisations (ASTO) said: “ASTO are delighted to award the Environmental Excellence award to Challenge Wales. We were particularly impressed with their collaboration with local organisations such as the Severn Estuary partnership and Cardiff University to improve their environmental credentials. Not only are they including science and environment in their sailing programmes; they are also using this to raise wider awareness of the valuable work Sail Training does in creating opportunities for young people.”
Can one small organisation like Challenge Wales make a big impact when it comes to environmental issues and education? Yes, look at the impact one small mosquito can do when it’s in a cabin with you!
Quotes from a few Young People who have been on our ocean literacy voyages:
“Microplastics are in the ocean, we are feeding the fish with plastics!! What do we do – take action”
“In the second part of the day we saw short beaked common dolphins, birds, Atlantic Grey seals and jellyfish. I am proud of me and my team onboard Challenge Wales”
“I learnt a lot about wildlife and myself during the journey, I realised I want to take a gap year where I can be challenged more. This trip had a positive impact on me”
“After learning about plastic polluting the sea and its consequences, we decided to go a little trip around the marina and picked up four full bags of trash. That was eye opening”
If you are interested in getting involved as a partner, a youth organisation or school or company through our ocean literacy activities, collaboration or partnership then please contact the Challenge Wales team.
Companies who are working towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals and are needing help in achieving Number 14 – Life below water are also encouraged to get in touch if you’re struggling to achieve this as Challenge Wales can help.
Combining innovative outdoor learning for 12 – 25 year olds and an adult-only adventure sailing programme, the predominantly volunteer-run sail training Charity in Cardiff Bay has been integrating ocean literacy, accredited learning and life-skills development to change the lives of young people with amazing results for over 13 years.