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Celebrating the power of youth for #IWill week

4 minute read

To mark this year’s #IWill week, we’re celebrating our Youth Ocean Network and the hard work of its members.

#IWill week is an annual celebration of the work young people are leading across the UK. The #IWill movement believes in empowering and supporting children and young people so they can make a positive impact on different issues which affect them.

Engaging young people through our Youth Ocean Network

Our youth engagement has grown this year, with a focus on embedding young voices across everything we do. Our Youth Ocean Network is in its eighth month and we’re regularly welcoming new members! The team gets together once a month online to discuss various aspects of our work – from volunteering to aquaculture, and ocean pollution to citizen science – whilst coming up with ideas to encourage youth advocacy and involvement.

It’s been great to see young members of our network take action in their personal lives and spread the word, with some recently giving presentations in their schools about chemical pollution in support of our #StopOceanPoison campaign.

Youth Beach Clean - GBBC 2022

Members of the Youth Ocean Network at an event during this year's Great British Beach Clean

Credit: Katie MacFarlane

In other areas of work, our youth engagement programme is reaching out to new audiences and working with young people who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to spend time by the coast or learn about marine wildlife.

At this year’s Great British Beach Clean, various events across the UK were run by our Youth Ocean Network members, and charities such as Children 1st, Forces Children Scotland, and Impact Arts got involved.


Kate, a member of the YON, helping out at a GBBC beach clean

Credit: Kate Inman

Meet some of our young volunteers

Matthew, 17, London

“I’ve really enjoyed attending the YON meetings, meeting new people with similar interests and learning a lot about the importance of marine biodiversity and the things that put it at risk.

"By volunteering with the Marine Conservation Society, I can contribute ideas with the youth in mind, being a young person myself! I’m learning so much about our ocean and I'm gaining more confidence in campaigning and sharing what I'm passionate about.”

Matthew - YON

Matthew taking part in this year's GBBC

Credit: Billy Barraclough

Evie, 14, Selkirk

“I’ve especially enjoyed meeting people with the same interests and passions as me, and hearing about what’s possible in this area and the variety of opportunities within this field. The YON is a great way to meet new people, gain confidence, feel like you’re part of and contributing to something, and raise awareness about a cause I really care about.

"I loved volunteering during the Great British Beach Clean as I got to meet everyone I normally speak to over zoom in real life! It was great to see people from the community see us and want to get involved, and it made it easier to raise awareness as I’d done something others find achievable and possible."

Evie - YON

Evie at a Great British Beach Clean event this year

Credit: Katie Macfarlane

Phoebe, 21, St Andrews

"I’ve really appreciated having the opportunity to join in calls with ocean activists and the team at the Marine Conservation Society to learn more about our ocean and things like chemical pollution that I hardly knew anything about before.

"I really enjoyed helping out at a beach clean and being able to encourage the interest in the natural world and the excitement of the children who came along! I want them to love it as much as I do, and to love the ocean and know how amazing it is, because then we’ll all care more about it and care more for it."

Katie and Phoebe - YON

Phoebe with our Youth Engagement Officer, Katie, at a beach clean

Credit: Katie Macfarlane

Actions that young people can take to help the ocean

Anyone can take action for our ocean and we have some great resources on our website to encourage ocean-friendly living.

You could use our Good Fish Guide if you enjoy eating seafood, sign one of our petitions to help protect our ocean, or try and reduce your carbon footprint. We also have lots of opportunities to join beach cleans, citizen science projects and we can visit your school or organisation to talk about the ocean and our work.

The first step, however, is simply to learn more about the ocean and build a connection to it. Spend time learning about our seas and the topics you’re passionate about, then share it with those around you. If you can, use your voice on social media and in person.

Most importantly, though – have fun! Get outdoors, find your local blue space (the sea, a river, stream, loch, canal, pond) and just enjoying being by water.