The Black Mermaid Foundation will be introducing a group of youngsters to the wonders beneath the waves at the 2022 Plettenberg Bay Ocean Festival.
These students, who learnt to swim through Plett’s Adopt A Swimmer programme, spearheaded by Louise Auersperg, will have their first experience swimming in the ocean.
They will do so alongside free-diving instructor and Marine Science Symposium MC Zandile Ndhlovu — the Black Mermaid herself.
The Black Mermaid is an organisation that aims to diversify the representation in the ocean arena by teaching the country’s youth from disadvantaged backgrounds to swim.
Ndhlovu will host a three-day symposium at the festival, which kicks off in July.
Ndhlovu said she was excited to be partnering with Adopt A Swimmer for an ocean excursion in Plett.
“Swim competence is the most important work, especially when we look at the drowning stats in SA,” she said.
On the collaboration, Ndhlovu said: “[This] is beautiful, witnessing collaborations and partnerships being a powerful tool for change in our communities.”
Auersperg said it was particularly exciting because while she did everything to get the children to stay above water, Black Mermaid did the opposite.
“The children fear that if they go under, they will never come up again.
“We are going to do a bit of snorkelling.
“I want to see how they are going to react to that.
“For me, it’s another concept whereby we are exposing children to the water.
“We haven’t had that since Covid-19.”
Plett Tourism chief executive Patty Butterworth said the event was representative of Plettenberg Bay as a town.
“It is a direct reflection of our community, and who we are.”
Butterworth said the town’s values were to observe, conserve and preserve.
“In Plett we are able to observe wildlife and nature up-close and in its natural habitat on a daily basis.
“We also encourage and educate the youth, our community and guests to adopt a mission to conserve wildlife and nature.
“In Plett we follow a practice of preservation for our wildlife and nature, our most valuable natural assets.”
The festival will be held from July 1-10.