A Cape Town marine project that promotes ocean conservation by taking children from Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain snorkelling has won an international award.

Hosted by Beyond Sport, an international pioneer that promotes social change through sport, at a ceremony in New York on Thursday night announced IAMWATER as a recipient of the award in the Sport for Climate Action Collective Impact category. The non-profit organisation accomplishes this through “transformative experiences”.

“We take learners on our two-day Ocean Guardians snorkelling workshops to spark a connection and love for the sea and its creatures, inspiring participants to be more conservation-minded and to want to take care of the oceans,” said Hanli Prinsloo, chief executive of IAMWATER.

She said their target audience were grade 7 pupils, many of whom had not visited the ocean or knew how to swim.

“We are passionate about working with underprivileged coastal communities where, despite living [within] walking distance to the shoreline, you often find young people who have never seen the world just beneath the waves,” said Prinsloo.

During the current spring season, Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain has become the focus for the NPO.

Between September and April, 1,700 children completed their “Ocean Guardian” workshop and they plan to almost double those numbers to 3,000 this year.

She said that many of the children who participate in this workshop, experience the ocean for the first time.

In South Africa, more than 1/3 of children can walk to the ocean but less than 36% can swim.

“We can’t wait to see more eyes open underwater for the very first time,” comments Prinsloo.

The NPO has provided global opportunities that allow people to be engaged and educated by the “world beneath the ocean”.

The award, supported by the Swedish Postcode Foundation is for “any non-profit, team, league, governing body, or corporation using sport to address climate change, reduce emissions, and advocate for sustainable policy across the world.”

The organisation has been focusing on their mission to help people understand their role and influence in protecting the planet since 2010.