PA dives into the blue to drive home green message

PA dives into the blue to drive home green message
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean helping to lift a discarded television set out of Sungei Api Api into a boat, to be thrown away later.

Singaporeans are already passionate about water sports. Now, the People's Association (PA) hopes to channel some of that enthusiasm into conservation.

This will be done through the PA's eight Water-Venture centres located near bodies of water such as Jurong Lake. These provide facilities for sports such as kayaking and dragon-boat racing.

But by the end of the month, each centre will have a new grassroots committee that will organise nature walks and set up interest groups in conservation too, along with getting residents to bond through water sports.

These Water-Venture committees will also drive the year-long Project Blue WaVe, which will reach out to students and residents on environmental issues.

The green message will be pushed by a hawksbill turtle mascot named Bobby. A comic about its adventures and how litter threatens marine animals will be shared on the project's Facebook page.

The project was launched yesterday morning at the Pasir Ris Water-Venture Outlet by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, an adviser to Pasir Ris-Punggol Grassroots Organisations.

More than 300 residents and students were there to clean up the beach and its surroundings.

Mr Teo joined more than 100 of them in kayaking up Sungei Api Api to fish litter out of the river.

Among their finds was an old television set, which Mr Teo helped to dredge up just before a heavy downpour forced the kayakers to shore.

Such activities teach participants about the environment and give them "an opportunity to go out and appreciate what it means to have green rivers", said DPM Teo.

Project Blue WaVe is PA's first foray into conservation.

But going green is also a way to bring people together, said PA chief executive director Ang Hak Seng.

That is the thinking behind the new Water-Venture committees, he added. "We want to turn PA facilities into an engagement platform."

One activity being considered is to pair young people, including vulnerable youth, with grassroots leaders to kayak together.

Mr Alvin Yeo, chairman of Pasir Ris' Water-Venture committee, will also ask residents for interest group ideas.

He also has outreach events planned to spread the green message. "My hope is to get our residents to know that we should keep our rivers and beaches clean."

This article was first published on Oct 5, 2014.
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