If there’s one thing I’ve learned this past year with Ocean Bridge, it’s that community service is not only beneficial for your community, it’s also amazing for your own overall health and well-being. By recognizing and joining in the dedication of volunteers who organize events, support local citizens and protect the environment, we can create an atmosphere where people helping people and the planet is a routine part of our every-day lives.
With Ocean Bridge, 40 youth from across the country – including myself – have been working together to educate young people from coast-to-coast-to-coast about the importance of ocean health and literacy. This initiative has inspired me to be a voice for conservation in Cape Breton and it has also taught me valuable skills along the way.
I was recently invited on CBC Radio’s Information Morning with host Steve Sutherland to talk about some of the eye-opening issues facing our oceans, and why I think we can make a difference in turning the tide. You can hear our conversation below:
This past year’s Ocean Bridge experience guided us through three stages: A life-changing summer wilderness expedition in the surreal archipelago of Haida Gwaii; an urban expedition in Vancouver where we saw just how much individuals can do to make changes in their communities; and ongoing local service in our hometowns that continues to this day. All have been equally valuable and meaningful in their own ways.
My local service has consisted of hosting shoreline cleanups throughout Cape Breton, along with engaging youth through my volunteering with Girl Guides of Canada. I am currently in the process of developing a challenge for Girl Guides that will help girls build the skills they need to become Aquatic Ambassadors within their own communities. The Aquatic Ambassadors Challenge focuses on marine life, shoreline protection, ocean health and female mentorship. Girls from ages 5-18 will develop skills that will make them leaders within their community as they become environmental stewards and mentors for one another. Once completed, girls will receive a badge recognizing their contributions to ocean conservation. I have also recently helped establish an environmental society at Cape Breton University that gives students the opportunity to volunteer within their community and learn about pressing environmental issues. All of this service has not only benefited my community, but it has helped me develop my passion for ocean health and conservation.
Volunteerism will motivate just about anyone to do more for themselves and, ultimately, their community. This newfound motivation comes from working alongside like-minded people who will inspire you to continue your efforts to make the world a better place.
Ocean Bridge is full of people who motivate me to protect our watersheds and engage youth in ocean health and literacy. I am so proud to be part of a program that challenges me to do more for our planet, teaches me empathy, and motivates me to keep swimming throughout all the trials our oceans have to face. We all have the potential to change the world and ensure our oceans are healthy and flourishing for generations to come. I am excited to be a part of this extraordinary movement and to continue volunteering in the environmental sector indefinitely. That’s what a culture of service means to me.
Hannah Kosick is a member of the 2018 Ocean Bridge program, an Ocean Wise initiative funded by the Government of Canada under the Canada Service Corps. Selection for the 2019 cohort is currently underway. The 2019 Ocean Bridge wilderness expedition will take participants to Lake Superior. The urban expedition will be in Ottawa.