What do an Olympic diver, a water polo player and an abstract artist have in common?
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They're all enthusiastic about the ocean and were all in Dubbo on Monday, October 16, to deliver a first-of-its-kind World Ocean Day seminar to St John's College students.
A city five hours from the nearest beach might be a surprising choice to debut a series of workshops centred on the health of the ocean, but Youth Ocean Carnival founder Timothy Johnston said all young people have a part to play.
"Our passion is to really develop young leaders," the mosman-based contemporary artist told the Daily Liberal.
"We really want to elevate young regional leaders and we believe there's a lot of innovation happening in regional communities and Dubbo is actually a hub for others so we want to create it as a satellite city for World Ocean Day for next year."
Among the speakers at the workshop was Olympic diver and 1.8-million-follower TikTok sensation Sam Fricker.
Mr Fricker's passion for the ocean began when he was 16 and saw a video of a sea turtle having a plastic straw removed from its nose. Inspired to make a difference, he started a company making straws out of wheat stems.
"That motivated me to take action and actually have an impact by creating a product, creating a solution instead of just raising the awareness ... because we all know," he said.
"Us young people have been so much more proactive in sustainability and that's why I came up with Sam's Straws because it was biodegradable and eco friendly.
"Paper straws suck, they do not work and take trees to make. My straws are actually upcycling a by-product that we grow to eat and using that literal stem as a straw."
Kal Glanznig, first grade water polo with Cronulla Sharks Water Polo and founder of Plastic Free Cronulla, also spoke at the workshop. His leadership saw him invited to attend the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference.
The Dubbo seminar was supported by a NSW government grant and will roll out to other schools across the state next year ahead of the Youth Ocean Carnival in Sydney, set to be held on World Ocean Day.
"Our ocean plays a fundamental role in the functioning of our planet," NSW Legislative Council president Ben Franklin said, opening the event.
"It regulates the climate, it produces oxygen, it provides us with food and it's the source of immense biodiversity across the world.
"But the ocean is facing enormous threats including pollution and climate change, overfishing, habitat destruction and plastic pollution. All of which require urgent and collective action."
Mr Franklin said it's important for people to be ocean-aware even if they live in inland communities.
"No matter how far from the shore we influence and impact on the health of our oceans and our planet," he said.
"It's not just people who live near the ocean who are responsible for looking after our planet, it's all the choices that we make in our daily lives each and every day."
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