Finding answers to the world's environmental problems largely will fall in the laps of our children, and the inaugural Ocean Heroes Bootcamp in New Orleans June 2-4 will give youth ages 11 to 18 a leg up on developing policies to do that.
The bootcamp, aimed at developing campaigns to reduce plastic in the earth's oceans, will give young people across the world a chance to collaborate on proposed policies to decrease plastic pollution in their communities and worldwide, starting with single-use plastic straws. More than 250 people will gather for the bootcamp in New Orleans, while another 750 youth will collaborate with them online during mini events in other countries.
Youth who attend the event will meet Netflix and Nickelodeon actor Aidan Gallagher (The Umbrella Academy; Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn; Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Audubon Nature Institute's Swamp Exhibit. Gallagher is the youngest person ever to be named a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for North America, serving as an environmental advocate for the U.N.'s Environmental Programme: Wild for Life Initiative.
"Our oceans supply up to 70 percent of earth's oxygen," Gallagher said in a prepared statement. "If they die, so does everything and everyone that needs oxygen. Protecting our oceans' health should be our top priority. I believe we can create a generation of like-minded advocates to conserve marine life, and Ocean Heroes Bootcamp is doing just that."
The day ends with a screening of Straws and musical entertainment.
Campers also will watch Smog of the Sea featuring Jack Johnson before entering intensive sessions on Sunday with adult squad leaders and mentors, where they will learn about the science of ecology as well as campaign development tools and will receive coaching and support for their initiatives to create change at the community level and internationally.
Workshops will be led by Marcus Ericksen of the 5 Gyres Institute, an initiative to fight plastic pollution through science, art, education and adventure; representatives from the University of Georgia and the Algalita Marine Research Foundation; Literatti founder Jeff Kirshner; Hannah Testa, a teenage environmentalist and animal rights activist who founded Hannah4Change; and Captain Planet Foundation program development strategist Courtney Kimmel.
Presentations and workshops also will be delivered by environmentalist, producer, director, musician and actor Adrian Grenier (Entourage); writer and producer Henry Pincus (The Art of Getty By, Spin, MTV's Now What?); Danni Washington, host of the STEM educational TV show Xploration Nature Knows Best; Dune Ives, executive director of Lonely Whale, an ocean conservation group; Barbara Hendrie, regional director of the U.N. Environment North America office; and others.
The campaigns the young people create at the bootcamp will be delivered to world leaders at the 2018 G7 Summit June 8-9 in Quebec, Canada. The G7, or Group of Seven, Summit comprises representatives from countries including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, who meet annually to advance policies to tackle challenging global issues.
Monday's activities include a speech by Grenier at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and a session about pitching campaigns. On Tuesday, campers will celebrate World Environment Day at the Carver Theater and a cleanup that starts at Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club hall and ends at Bayou St. John