Nature Nippers

ANZA Singapore Nippers is focused on creating eco warriors and environmental awareness in their beach environment. Skye Wellington reports…

From the very beginning, awareness for the natural and marine environment has been an important part of ANZA Singapore Nippers. When we started in 2016, our sessions commenced with a beach clean-up, and we continue this practice today. Our kids, parents and volunteers collect rubbish from the beach, shoreline and water each Sunday. It’s a simple thing to do, that admittedly won’t change the world, yet this effort delivers five valuable results:

1.We create a safe space, removing any debris that could injure participants.
2.We leave zero footprint of our activities behind, and hopefully leave our surroundings better than we found them.
3.Through repetition, the kids increase their environmental awareness and carry that with them outside of Nippers.
4.The act of trying to make a difference to the planet informs the kids about gratitude, consideration and unity.
5.Occasionally onlookers notice what we’re doing and maybe this gives them pause for thought about their own behaviour, you never know!

Beach Clean Ups
With Singapore being a trading hub and ships anchoring near Sentosa, waste does wash ashore on Tanjong Beach. There’s also a considerable amount of rubbish left behind by people visiting the beach recreationally. A lot of this is made up of plastic and polystyrene. But there’s a variety of hazardous materials we come across. We’ve found glass, large nails, rubber footwear, chairs, metal objects and wooden planks that can really give you a good whack when you’re swimming! We try our best to collect this stuff each Sunday.
Obviously, conservation is not just about garbage disposal though. Through the act of collecting rubbish each week, our participants have become more curious about the beach environment. They ask about marine life in general, and the habitat at Tanjong Beach in particular. They point out hazards in the water and ask where they came from. They wonder what they can do to improve things. This led to a few great initiatives and events for ANZA Singapore Nippers last year.

Awarding Environmental Efforts
Through our partnership with corporate office design company, Steelcase, and their focus on sustainability, we implemented a monthly Nature Nipper Award in 2018. Rather than being a prize for picking up rubbish, we wanted to acknowledge Nippers who show vigilance towards the environment and a special interest in conservation. The first few batches of recipients were proud as punch to receive a certificate in front of their peers, and other kids were spurred on to get curiouser and curiouser…
Then a wonderful thing happened. Halfway through last year some Hawksbill turtles decided to lay their eggs right where we meet each Sunday. To protect the eggs from predators, Sentosa Development Corporation organised for a barrier to be erected around the nest. For two months we waited for the eggs to hatch. The expectation of what might happen was a great incubator for the kid’s questions and ideas, but we quickly realised we were out of our depth – as committed as we are to imparting conservation ideals to our kids, we’re just a bunch of parents and volunteers. Luckily for us, our Event Manager and U6 parent, Jaq Molloy, spotted a great opportunity and got in touch with S.E.A Aquarium’s Guardians of the Sea. This conservation division of the aquarium kindly prepared an interesting talk with animal specimens for our age groups, sharing information about the turtles, as well as other local marine species. We were very glad 106 hatchlings eventually made it to the sea!

Outdoor appreciation
Capitalising on all this enthusiasm for nature, we were able to finish the year having held two great events for kids in our younger age groups, thanks to the initiative of parents. Our U6 group camped out overnight and discovered a nature trail in a hidden part of Singapore. Meanwhile, our U7 group, organised by Age Manager Assistant Felix Green, hopped on a ferry to Pulau Ubin, pitched some tents and embarked on a jungle adventure. It’s hard to tell who loves it more – the kids or the parents. Either way, we’ll continue to include an environmental aspect in our activities in 2019. We’ve got some plans already so watch this space!

If you’d like to partner with us on environmental programs, or sign up your child for the next Nippers season get in touch! anza.org.sg/sports/nippers/