Sunday, August 3, 2014

A day at the Beach with CURE the Sea

Back in December I got the chance to spend a day at the beach with CURE - The Sea. 

This is the classroom

CURE - The Sea is the brain child of Laura Riavitz, a marine biologist who also calls San Juan home. Over the last year Laura has been working with the Provincial Government of La Union to start a marine education program for all sixth grade students in San Fernando, La Union. Laura has been to all of the public schools in San Fernando lecturing about marine life, coral reefs, and how to protect them. But the lectures are just the beginning. She also brings the kids out of the schools and into the environment to see first hand the marine life the have learnt about in the classroom. Even though San Fernando is located right on the coast, many people who live and work there are totally disconnected from the rich but threatened, marine environment in their neighbourhood. CURE - The Sea facilitated by Laura Riavitz has now been to all public schools in San Fernando to lecture about marine life, coral reefs and how to protect them. So far  4,777 grade 5 and 6 students from all public schools in San Fernando have taken part in a morning of beach discovery including snorkeling under the supervision of trained lifeguards. 

The day I tagged along Laura and a small group of students from one of the mountainous barangays in San Fernando. The students had to travel more than an hour to get to the ocean and for most of they might only come to town a few times a year never mind a morning a the beach!

CURE - The Sea is unique in that it not only aims to make students in San Fernando more aware of the troubles facing our marine environment but gives them hands on experiential learning by taking them to the beach. According to Ryerson University,  “In its simplest form, experiential learning means learning from experience or learning by doing. Experiential education first immerses learners in an experience and then encourages reflection about the experience to develop new skills, new attitudes, or new ways of thinking.” 

Imagine for a minute you are a young boy or girl growing up in an upland barangay in San Fernando. Your interactions with the ocean are limited. You might not know what a starfish or a jellyfish looks like. Maybe if you are lucky you have been to the beach on a trip to the city with your family but most likely not. This is a common situation for many children growing up here in San Fernando. So when it comes to Marine Conservation and awareness it is difficult for kids to understand the importance of protecting something they may have never seen before. Programs such as CURE - The Sea are so important in terms of education because they provide children an opportunity to interact with their environment in a hands on way. And the next time they are at the beach they will be able to share their knowledge with their friends and family. 

CURE- The Sea is sponsored by the Hon.Congressman Victor F. Ortega from his congressional funds together with the support of the City of San Fernando under Mayor Pablo C. Ortega, the Department of Education under City Division Superintendent Dr. Linda Laudencia, Rotary Club of San Fernando under President Edgee Don P. Zarsadias, the Red Cross La Union-San Fernando Chapter under Chairman Jayjay Orros, and the La Union Lifeguards under Councilor Alfred Ortega.

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