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Candice Harding - Clean Surf Project
I am a mother of 3 children, a former teacher and a mermaid at heart, my passion is working with children and everything to do with the ocean. I: have a flare for the dramatics; a natural creative streak; can think on my feet; don't mind getting dirt under my nails; am on a mission to make a difference by being an example.
I work with a non-profit organisation Clean Surf Project on the South Coast of Durban in Amanzimtoti. My key role is doing educational presentations and creating awareness. In the last 2 years I have researched, developed, designed and presented educational talks to a range of ages.
After joining a beach clean up for Clean Surf Project, I was asked if I would like to present an awareness talk to "a few" of the local schools in the area. I leaped at the chance, of course! That was then - January 2018. Now, with more than 70+ presentations in and around Amanzimtoti and surrounds; a couple thousand kids and a few tonnes of rubbish off the beaches later, I'm still going strong with schools booking presentations weekly. From pre-school to corporate, I've done and do it all. I don't get paid and there are no sponsors. I do it because I know it is necessary and I am prepared to do whatever it takes. The problem is too serious not to. In fact, my husband and I are planning a GoFundMe campaign to go on a plastic crusade covering the African coast with our children. My belief is that people can't do better if they don't know better and once they know, they need to be offered alternatives in order to live plastic-free.
Because there has been no funding, I have had to be very creative with regards to resources and materials. All the props I use and the ideas I come up with for the presentations, I have made or borrowed from my kids' toy cupboard. My aim every time I stand up in front of an audience is to present a fun learning environment with a lot of energy that drives a message home. I tailor each presentation to the specific age group and make every effort during a beach/estuary/street clean up with Clean Surf Project to find teachable moments. I currently homeschool my son, so it is natural for me to find learning experiences around us.
What I enjoy most is seeing mindsets change in the young and old. Hearing about, and seeing changes in the community, my friends and family. Whether a child writes a letter of appreciation because their eyes have been opened, or a parent complains because they now have to go to the beach after work and pick up litter and their chlid/children have now forbidden them to buy, use or waste plastic, my heart is happy because that means I have created that many more steps in the right direction, that many more positive changes.