Words by Natalie Banks, Founder and Director, Azraq
Children are the future and we must not only take steps ourselves to protect the environment and oceans but educate our children; the future custodians of our planet. As many parents are currently enjoying the excitement, trials and tribulations of home learning, extending this learning to much-needed free time may sound exhausting, however, luckily this teaching moment needn’t be boring and can be great fun for the whole family and for children of all ages. Here, Natalie Banks, Founder and Director of Azraq shares five fun activities for parents to teach their children the importance of protecting the oceans:
Go to the beach
The best way to get kids excited and learning about the ocean is to take them directly to the source. We are fortunate to have so many beaches here in the UAE, so why not pack the car with beach time activities and make a day of it. Snorkelling is a great option as it is easy to learn and relatively inexpensive, and most importantly it allows children to play in the ocean and experience marine life first hand.
Volunteer for a Beach Cleanup
Of course, some children are not keen on the water, or ready to get their feet wet, however, having them by the ocean can expose them to its beauty and foster an appreciation. Look up local beach clean-ups, such as those found on the Azraq website, and have the family take part. This will provide a great learning opportunity to explain the importance of not polluting and the detrimental effects it can have on marine life.
All children love a bedtime story and this can be a great moment to inadvertently teach children about the ocean and protecting it. Books, such as The Rainbow Fish, The Big Book of the Blue, The Eco Heroes and the Plastic Planet and What a Waste, are a great way to get kids thinking and learning. Open up a conversation after reading the book to ask your child what they learned and if they have any questions. The more they know, the more they will understand the importance of protecting the oceans.
Go dolphin watching
The Arabian Gulf is endemic to a local dolphin species called the Arabian humpback dolphin which can be seen from the shore, particularly at Saadiyat Island and near to Lulu Island in Abu Dhabi, as well as from the coastlines of Dubai and Fujairah. Keep an eye on the social media pages of the UAE Dolphin Project and the Fujairah Whale Project for news of recent sightings.
Play with toys
Children tend to have an attachment to toys and it can be a great way to teach them about the ocean and protecting them, as well as letting kids explore their imagination. Dependent on your child’s preference, offer sustainable soft toys or perhaps eco-friendly rubber toys for them to play with. You can even incorporate these toys into bathtime for them to play with in the water.
There are many ways you can teach your child about protecting the ocean and as seen, it is easy to incorporate fun activities to help with this in your day to day life. As you know your child best, choose a route you feel will resonate with them but most importantly, keep it simple and fun.
Founded by Natalie Banks, Azraq is a volunteer-run not-for-profit entity in the UAE. Azraq focuses on the protection, defence and conservation of marine life, as well as enables partnerships to be formed with government and private entities and individuals for the good of the UAE and its marine environment. Born in September 2018, the foundation’s mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect the marine ecosystem and species. The organization achieves its goals by educating through awareness programs and motivating the community. The word “Azraq” gives credence to the nation’s mother tongue, translated from Arabic to English as “blue”, defining the marine environment that the not-for-profit serves to conserve and protect.