All of us who live on the Gulf coast have been impacted by the recent red tide and the unprecedented death of dolphins, sea turtles, manatees and fish. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and jaded at the politics and seeming hopelessness of the situation. Living here and having the opportunity to enjoy and explore the region’s bounty fosters a unique appreciation for its riches. A mixed blessing of sorts, it also points out how vulnerable the marine resources are and can cultivate a desire to protect them so future generations can have the same opportunities they’ve had. That was the inspiration for Kids for Clean Water, an organization the goal of which is to give kids a say in the health of the environment they will inherit.
Tracy Freeman, editor of Edible Sarasota Magazine was visibly distraught as she related over lunch last June that her daughter Addy, age 11, had been in tears as she wrote a letter expressing her sadness at the images of dead sea life that permeated the news and social media. They were both looking for a way to make a difference.
“This is important to me because I want kids in the future to have the same experiences that I have enjoyed. If we don’t clean up our water, our wildlife will continue to die. Our sea turtles are dying because of all the plastic in the ocean; we have to stop using plastic straws. I want safe water so I can swim and go fishing with my Dad.” Addy Freeman, age 11.
Dawn Barbour, of Sarasota, expressed the same sentiment when her daughter Sadie related her experiences in school where sea turtles were the subject of their study. The kids were working on a project to educate their parents on the importance of helping turtles and the deaths in the red tide were distressing them. Dawn knew she wanted to do more when she heard Sadie make a comment based on a political ad she had heard on television.
“Kids for Clean Water means helping to save all of our beautiful dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, and fish. We can all do our part to help make sure all do our part to help make sure our waters are clean and healthy for us and for the marine life.” Sadie Barbour, age 9.
John Paul (J.P.) Brooker is well aware of the challenges we face. As the Ocean Conservancy’s Policy Counsel for the Fish Conservation Program, working on marine conservation issues in the southeast is a day job for him. This made him all the more passionate about protecting the waters for his family and future generations. His two daughters are still young, but they too love the beaches and the marine life that they’re just getting to know.
“My daughters are seventh generation Floridians. And as a passionate environmentalist and lover of Floridian wilderness myself, I am committed to instilling in them the sense of duty to be stewards of our states most precious natural resources, especially the watersheds and coastal ecosystems that make Florida such a unique and special place.”
“Since I could walk I’ve been swimming and fishing in Florida water, and I want my girls to be the same – that’s why I am proud to foster the conservationist spirit of my budding Floridian environmentalists, and why I am so excited that we have started up Kids for Clean Water.” J.P. Brooker for his daughters, Anne, 3, and Elizabeth, 4.
When the three met, the chemistry was perfect and led to the formation of Kids for Clean Water. The organization is new and in the process of obtaining their 501 3C non-profit status. They have established an email account, [email protected], an Instagram account, and a Facebook page.
I don’t have any children, but having been blessed with over three decades on Florida’s west coast, I too want to make sure that future generations have the same opportunities I’ve had. That’s why I’m joining Kids for Clean Water’s efforts to protect and enhance Florida’s marine ecosystem. For the dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, fish and future generations. Will you?
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