The Vitamin Sea Project
Facilitating in-person experience of the ocean and waterways
The Vitamin Sea Project came about off the back of Seaful founder’s, Cal Major’s, stand up paddleboarding expedition from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 2018. She set out on the 1000 mile journey to talk to people about the positive solutions to plastic pollution. But through engaging with local communities along the way, soon came to realise that without a personal connection to the ocean or waterways, we cannot expect anybody to want to protect them.
People Protect What They Love
People protect what they love. But they can only love what they know.
The communities Cal met on her journey who were going above and beyond to protect their local ocean environments had deep, personal connections to these places. Often times it was an acknowledgement of how it felt to be here, the mental health benefits that being in nature brought, that drove them to protect their patch of ocean or waterway.
The Mental Health Benefits of being around blue spaces
The mental health benefits of being on, in or by water have been increasingly documented over the last few years, both anecdotally and academically.
In a society increasingly disconnected from nature, and with one in five children in the UK, our island nation, having never been to the sea, we want to help more people discover the mental health benefits that the water can bring, and empower people to spend more time in nature.
Creating Ocean Stewards
Whether we realise it or not, all of us are inextricably linked to the ocean. The plankton in the seas produce more than half the oxygen we breathe on Earth, and healthy ocean ecosystems are vital for our lives on this planet, especially in a changing climate.
Our ocean and waterways needs as many of us as possible to care and protect them, and doing so can in turn improve connections in communities and individual self-worth.
The Vitamin Sea Project aims to reach outside of our current environmental echo-chambers and involve more people in the conversation about ocean protection. We want to inspire and empower the next wave of ocean advocates.
How does The Vitamin Sea Project create personal connections to the water?
We believe that to form a connection with our incredible blue spaces, there’s no substitute for actually spending time there. We help to arrange and facilitate this through experiences such as rock-pooling, stand up paddelboarding, surfing and swimming.
Is it just the ocean, or waterways too?
Both! Even if we live in-land, rivers, lakes, canals and reservoirs connect us to the ocean, and are important parts of the global ocean ecosystems. We take beneficiaries to the sea, but we also help facilitate connection to local blue spaces in land so that our beneficiaries can have continued benefit close to home.
Who is eligible to benefit from these experiences?
We are specifically aiming to help those who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity, or means, to partake in the activities and experiences we create. We work with young people, particularly the one in five children in the UK who has never been to the sea, and adults. We connect with in-land communities who feel little personal connection to nature, as well as coastal groups who benefit from assistance in experiencing and learning about the ocean on their doorstep.
We have a wonderful connection with the Midcounties Co-operative, and run sessions in conjunction with them and their colleagues and members. The Midcounties Co-operative are a really valued ally in our aim to help people’s mental health and connection to, and stewardship of, nature.
Who delivers the sessions?
Sessions are facilitated by our staff, trustees and our amazing delivery partners around the UK. These are often established SUP schools or outdoor activity providers, many of whom generously volunteer their time and resources. We are very proud and grateful to our network, and in particular to the Water Skills Academy who have supported us in getting this project off the ground.
What happens in the sessions?
We want our beneficiaries to be given the opportunity to experience the water in a way that is individually beneficial. We never tell anyone how they should feel there, but rather give them the tools to reflect themselves on how if feels to be in blue spaces. During our sessions we provide educational discussions and workshops about the specific waterway or patch of ocean they are experiencing, and the global ocean ecosystems at large. We sew the seeds for ocean advocacy.
What happens after the sessions?
All participants are provided with follow up materials and information, empowering them to learn more about the ocean, connect with their local community, and find ways to continue to spend time in nature in their locality. In some areas, we have regular sessions for the same groups.
How can I be involved?
We are so grateful to our team of volunteers. If you run a water-based activity centre, are a qualified instructor, or would like to be involved in any other capacity, please get in touch!
If you would like to take part in one of our sessions, or would like to nominate or refer somebody or a group who you think would benefit, please do get in touch.