The Full Story of
How it All Started
I believe that you are never too young or too old to make a difference.
No action is too small or insignificant. Everything we do has ripples and echoes.
When I was six years old I discovered my passion to protect the planet and species within. For Christmas 2006 my auntie Lori and uncle Johnny gifted me a WWF (World Wildlife Foundation) stuffed sea turtle. They had “adopted” a sea turtle in my name and explained the significance of this gift. When I learned why sea turtles were endangered I knew I needed to do something to help. I took immediate action. I started raising money by making friendship bracelets to sell at lemonade stands and bake sales I would host around town and at school. For my 7th birthday I asked all of my family and friends to give me donations instead of presents. I explained that I already had a sufficient amount of things their help to save the turtles would mean a lot to me. By the end of the year I had raised $305.
Since I was 6 months old I had been fortunate enough to travel to Bali, Indonesia with my parents, for their business Vested Interest Trading. Throughout my mums travels, she met a man named Chris Brown who had founded “The Turtle Project” at Reef Seen in Pemuteran, Bali. We contacted Chris wondering if we could go and see the project in action. Throughout the visit I was able to participate and learn all about their efforts. They work so hard to educate the local fisherman and beach goers about turtle conservation. The awareness in the community is so helpful to the project because it provides eyes and ears along the entire coastline. It was so interesting being able to see firsthand what my donation would be supporting. When I was hand delivering the donation to Chris I was so excited that I told him the next year I would raise double. Everyone was surprised by this reaction of mine. At that age I didn’t understand the value of money and how many friendship bracelets I would have to sell to make $600. My parents knew I would be determined to reach this goal, so they helped connect me with an artisan who was intrigued by my efforts and carved some little wooden turtles. My parents gifted me the first batch. I brought 100 carved wooden turtles back to Canada and they sold within a week; to this day, I sell the wooden turtles for a donation of $5.
By the time I returned to Indonesia, one year later, I had raised over $2,000. When I presented the donation everyone was astonished. They couldn’t believe I had exceeded my fundraising goal by three times as much. I sat down with Chris and with the guidance of my parents we were able to come to a sustainable conclusion.
There are these artificial reefs called “Biorocks”. A Biorock is a structure made of rebar that is submerged into the ocean to help rejuvenate broken and damaged coral. Attached to these structures by cables, are buoys with solar panels that float on the oceans surface and send electricity to the structure. The electric field of positive and negative charge dissolves calcium carbonate from the ocean water which condense and attach to the structure. Coral larvae settle onto the calcium carbonate which then helps skeleton growth.
In many places around the world there is an issue with dynamite fishing. Not only does this process kill hundreds of fish but it destroys coral reefs that have been growing for centuries. There are certified people called artificial reef gardeners who go and collect coral fragments that have been blasted off natural coral beds. These pieces would die on their own but can be salvaged and continue to grow if attached to a Biorock in time. When the fragments settle onto the structure, the electric current can assist the coral growth up to x5 faster than it would naturally.
So, with the donation they built one of these innovative structures. It is 5m x 5m and get this… in the shape of a sea turtle! In honour of my contribution to this project they had named it Hannah’s Reef.
I had about $300 left to donate and I was looking for another cause in the area. I learned about the Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS). Sumatra is a neighboring island of Bali and is home to, in my opinion, some of the most majestic apes on the planet, the Sumatran Orangutan. Unfortunately there are fewer than 14,000 Sumatran orangutans left in the wild. Their biggest threat is loss of habitat due to deforestation. The SOS is working to reclaim and restore the rainforest for the threatened and helpless wildlife on the island. My donation was able to sponsor 75 trees to be planted in the Gunung Leusur National Park. This is a protected park that is home to the orangutans and many other threatened native species.
When I returned to Canada I was so excited to share my experience with everyone that had supported me to make these efforts possible. At the age of 9 I started to dabble in public speaking. I was asked to speak in schools and community groups in North Bay and surrounding area. From then on, my goal has been to spread awareness and try and inspire others to make change in whatever way moves them. I hope to convey that age does not matter. You are never too young or too old to make a difference. No effort is too big or too small, everything has their echoes and repercussions. As humans we have so much power and it is up to us to initiate positive change.