The MER Beach Brigade
On August 14, ARK volunteers and our Mentor-Educate-Reinforce students (and siblings) spent the morning at Barkers Beach (on the west side of Grand Cayman at the north).
Every child in ARK's Mentor-Educate-Reinforce program has benefited from dozens of hours of volunteer mentoring during August and September to give them new experiences and empower them with knowledge.
We were inspired by kids in Hawaii who built an innovative yet simple device to clean microplastics out of the sand on the beach. (see video here)
Because of limited availability of supplies and materials in Grand Cayman right now, our device was a little different - but the principle is the same.
Using a basic concept (gravity!), water circulates in the wheelbarrow through the sand, the sand sinks to the bottom, and small pieces of plastic float to the top. The residual water is poured through a very fine mesh bag to filter out microplastics.
The baking hot August sun (and the need for a car battery to run the device) meant that the Beach Brigade gathered in the shade of the mangroves to do the demonstration.
We carried sand and water from the beach, and watched in amazement as the plastic separated from the sand.
Then the kids and mentors also did a beach cleanup along Barkers' Beach in Barkers National Park - an area where prevailing ocean currents deposit floating debris on the beach. We had big smiles when we a member of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service stopped by to commend our efforts.
We hope this is a beginning of a beautiful connection between kids in the Cayman Islands and our friends in Hawaii, participating in the movement to find new ways to keep coastal regions clean.