MercyCare educator takes sustainability under the sea in unique learning experience

MercyCare educator takes sustainability under the sea in unique learning experience

by Freya Lucas

June 08, 2022

For the children at MercyCare Merriwa, sustainability and caring for the environment is now more meaningful than ever thanks to the efforts of their Centre Manager Jelena Venkamah, who recently took children along for the ride as she cleaned up the ocean floor. 


Ms Venkamah is the service’s Eco Warrior, and says this is a title which is about more than just a job for her it’s a way of life. There is an Eco Warrior at every MercyCare Early Learning Centre – a dedicated educator with a passion for protecting the environment and championing eco-friendly learning activities with children.


As a seasoned diver, Ms Venkamah wanted to find a way to incorporate the Eco Warrior values, which includes protecting the environment and championing eco-friendly learning activities, into her side hobby.


“I have been diving for two years now,” she explained. “I took it up as a personal challenge as a means to overcome my fear of the ocean and acquire new skills.” 


To mark World Health Day, she took a deep dive with a group of fellow divers to clean up rubbish that was spread along the ocean floor.

“A group of divers from the local community met up to clear debris from the ocean – it was lovely to meet up with people who share the same eco-conscious values,” she said.


“Together we picked up rubbish left behind by fishermen and beachgoers which can unfortunately be destructive to marine life.”


To show the children at her centre what she had done, Ms Venkamah had her photo taken while deep under the ocean, holding up a sign that read ‘MercyCare Merriwa’.


“It was my diving buddy’s idea – we were talking about how we can further awareness about the importance of keeping the ocean clean,” she said.


Returning to the centre after World Health Day, she shared her photographs and a video with the children who she said were in awe. 


“I got a big ‘wow’ from our children, they wanted me to show them videos of the octopus and other creatures I came across,” she said.


“I could see how excited they were and I heard a lot of ‘we should put our rubbish in the bin and not in the sea’.


“It reminded me why events like World Health Day are important, as it helps people to pause and reflect on how we can give back and build a better future.”

The reaction of the children, she continued, has shown her how important it is to instill sustainable values early. 


“It is amazing to work for an organisation that makes this a priority,” she continued. “Children are the future, and by fostering sustainable habits at an early stage, they can grow up and become more aware of environmental issues thus, developing better ways of caring for it.”