One of the main goals of our Dominican Republic National Mangrove Initiative is to make sure people know how important mangroves are in this island nation. We want to spread the word that without healthy mangroves, there will be more storm damage, fewer fish, and fewer tourists—not to mention that mangroves fight global warming by storing huge amounts of carbon.
Young people are the key to this effort. With them on board, the next generation of leaders will make smarter decisions, never forgetting how important mangrove ecosystems are.
In the sports-loving DR, we can’t think of a better way to engage youth than by pairing mangrove education with baseball and volleyball. Dominican baseball players—many of whom have starred in U.S. major leagues—are admired public figures. And the Dominican Women’s national volleyball team, the Queens of the Caribbean, makes headlines on the international sports stage, giving girls powerful role models.
However, many young people must play baseball with nothing more than rocks and sticks because they don’t have balls, bats, or mitts. Many girls with a passion for volleyball have no access to balls and nets. This project will change that, bringing more than just fun and physical activity. Studies show that girls and boys who play sports are healthier, have higher self-esteem, get better grades, and are less likely to engage in risky behavior.
Young people who receive sports equipment will get training in mangrove conservation from Seacology’s in-country partner, Grupo Jaragua. They will learn why coastal mangrove forests are crucial to the health and economic well-being of Dominican communities. They will also plant trees and help clean up coastlines—building skills and gaining pride in the process.
This project was generously funded by donors to our 2021 crowdfunding campaign.