You and your husband are committed to fighting climate change and protecting the Ocean. Team Malizia has even initiated a dedicated project called “My Ocean Challenge”. What exactly is your role in this?
I am Team Malizia’s Ocean Educator and the “My Ocean Challenge” project is an educational programme that I developed together with Boris and the team. It is an immersive school learning programme made for educators to use with children aged 9-14, although we noticed that it works very well with younger and older children too! I worked as a teacher for almost ten years before joining Team Malizia full-time, and I wanted to create a programme that is both scientifically accurate and inspiring to children. I carefully chose every single word in our educational booklet, worked closely with scientists, created lots of fun activities and included fascinating topics about the Ocean in the programme. Besides creating the school materials, I also do events with schools and try to promote the programme in order to reach as many children as possible.
When and how did you come up with the idea?
When I was working as a teacher, I realised that school programmes in Germany – and it turns out in most countries – did not educate children much about ocean protection, or about the climate crisis and solutions to it. So in 2018, after a lot of research, Boris and I started the “My Ocean Challenge” project with the educational booklet that has now been translated into 12 languages. The idea was to raise awareness by giving children the opportunity to discover the excitement of sailing by following world races on board our IMOCA race yacht, understand how ocean health is threatened, how carbon dioxide (CO2) is damaging our Ocean, and how they can be part of the solution. Our goal is to always empower children, not scare them – we want to inspire them to take action themselves.
To date, you have reached almost 55,000 children and young people with your awareness raising campaign, learning materials and on-site activities. What are the next steps or goals you want to achieve?
Yes, we have reached many children around the world with our programme. From the booklet to boat tours, from our newsletter to events with schools or even live calls from the boat during races, we raise awareness in many different ways. Over the past year, I worked on publishing my first book “My Ocean Challenge - Kurs auf Klimaschutz” – a non-fiction children’s book, which was launched mid-September. It is aimed at younger children and I am looking forward to seeing it translated into many languages. We also want to explore the video format more and we will be launching a series on YouTube soon. It will consist of short educational videos made specifically for younger children on different scientific topics related to our team. And of course, The Ocean Race next year – when our sailing crew will race around the world for six months - will be the perfect opportunity to educate local children in many new places.
How did the children respond to your lesson on Ocean protection? Could you share some feedback that you have received?
The response is fantastic! Children have fun and are very impressed by offshore sailing. They identify with the team, especially with our sailors, and they often tell us that they want to be part of Team Malizia too. The children are fascinated by the Ocean, its beauty and the incredible submarine world. They are often intrinsically motivated and very curious, and they want to learn more about scientific facts. We often get the feedback that our topics are interesting and that our programme is fun. It is amazing to see that they want to participate and protect the Ocean, and how they want to get creative to find their own solutions and take action.