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Territory’s first Youth Ocean Summit begins today

jeff@samoanews.com

The Department of Commerce’s American Samoa Coastal Management Program and Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary will hold a first ever ‘Youth Ocean Summit’ today, at the Governor H. Rex Lee Auditorium beginning at 8:30 a.m.

The Youth Ocean Summit was organized to bring together public and private high school students from American Samoa to learn and discuss among themselves the topic of ocean conservation and how important they are as youth to affect change.

One of the highlights of the day will be the Ocean Swimming/Ocean Science (OS/OS) class students of Samoana High School, who will be presenting their final projects to the territory’s youth on ocean conservation.

Keynote speaker will be 13-year old Briana Fruean, who is an environmental champion and advocate for conservation, with her campaigns on climate change and tree planting. She is also planning to attend a United Nations Conference on environmental issues, next month in Rio de Janeiro.

The OS/OS class was launched at Samoana High School as a pilot class in January 2012, as a 14-week program that earned a 1/2 credit as a Health Class for 24 students who registered and participated in four classes per week in open water swimming and open water safety. The classes were taught by the American Samoa Aquatics Agency (ASAA) and its Senior instructors. One day per week was devoted to the classroom, learning about ocean conservation from staff of the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

The final project for the ocean conservation segment, will be presented today, by the Samoana students.

During today’s summit, with students from different high schools in attendance, they will paired off in teams to discuss among themselves how affecting change and making ocean conservation in their schools or community can be achieved.

The culminating event of the Youth Ocean Summit will be an Ocean Job Jamboree which will bring together the private and public sector organizations to host booths to share with the youth the jobs and career paths they can take and how the ocean is a dependent source for their livelihoods.

Samoa News heard from the head of the ASAA, Zero Iaulualo, who spoke of the ASAA’s role in the OS/OS class, which “ was to teach open water swimming and open water safety, and at the same time, teaching students how to keep our waters clean.”

“A lot of the kids that came to us could not swim. We don’t have an aquatic center that we can go to, to learn these skills, but because the ocean is our swimming pool, we must learn how to function correctly there, ” he said.

Iaulaualo went on to say, “In this class, we have seen vast improvements. Those who were non- swimmers at the beginning of the class, can now be called swimmers. The work will not end here. It will go on and on, until we have everyone here on the island swimming.”

According to a press release on the Youth Ocean Summit, the students will visit with and speak to managers, engineers, planners, cannery staff, government biologists, scientists, educators, policy leaders and several other professionals who have a connection to the ocean, whether it is through commerce, navigation, protection, etc. The ocean is an important area that bridges all fields and capacities when it comes to jobs.



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