New Ireland Triathlon Academy: Combating Global Problems at a Local Level

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By Geraldine Kalabai and Joanita Nonwo – EMTV Online

For centuries Papua New Guineans have had a symbiotic relationship with their environment; for the inland people the land, and for the coastal people the ocean.

The ocean is vital for human survival. It provides food and other resources for local communities, contributes to the economy and it plays a leading role in the Earth’s climate by regulating the air and temperature in its atmosphere.

While the ocean plays all these vital roles to sustain life on earth for us and all other living things, there are some threats that it faces among many others.

Marine plastic pollution, is one of the biggest problems for oceans all over the world; it poses a direct threat to the balance of marine ecosystems and human health. UNESCO reported that plastic has direct and indirect negative impacts on biodiversity, and as plastic waste enters the food chain through unsuspecting channels such as micro-particles, an environmental issue transforms into a major challenge to human health and livelihood. Preserving ocean health means preserving human well-being.

One local organisation in the New Ireland Province, the New Ireland Triathlon Academy (NITA), has produced some regional sporting champions but are also helping to positively mould and shape youths in Kavieng, the provincial capital.

New Ireland is the most north-eastern province of Papua New Guinea. The provincial capital, Kavieng, is situated on the northern tip of the main island. Known for its beautiful beaches, shark calling festivals and also a game fishing destination, a lot of activities in the province revolves around the ocean.

NITA through its Enviro Youth Ambassador program 2018, is actively helping to address some of their local waste pollution issues in Kavieng with the help of other like-minded individuals who volunteer.

NITA Senior Youth Enviro Leaders alongside Jase Kovacs ScubaVentures Kavieng – who are also film makers, held an in-water-clean-up coinciding with Earth day on April 22. The cleanathon activity was just one of many activities NITA has come up with to address issues of local waste plastic pollution.

Rachel Sapery James, an athlete by profession who represented Papua New Guinea in the Commonwealth Games, is the founder of NITA.

The marine platform is not a new thing to Rachel, who has a Masters Degree in Tropical Marine Aquatic Ecosystems and Environment Management Conservation.

An expert in both the sporting field and with her science background, Rachel has taken the opportunity to use the two different platforms to create this brain child, taking it upon herself to inspire the next generation through sports.

“I wanted to offer a community project for our youngsters through sports, because I identified that there weren’t many opportunities for our juniors and that’s where the idea came into my head and I thought Tri Kids Kavieng” Rachel stated in Jase Kovacs’ short film.

She also identified that there was not any proper waste management in place so under her leadership the organisation took it upon itself to clean along the foreshore of the beach and in the water around Kavieng town. Local dive centre, ScubaVentures supported this initiative with a boat, divers and equipment.

“It’s not just about sports, we are teaching them to be responsible little people and they’ll grow up to be responsible adults,” Sapery James said.
NITA sees themselves as a catalyst movement for positive agents of change and youth development in their island community.

Their next community youth led event will be ‘World Ocean Day’ on Friday 8th June where they hope to mobilise more Schools and Youth Groups within Kavieng.

You can find NITA’s short film by Jase Kovacs here.

NITA would like to thank all their supporting organisations and business houses locally and abroad for supporting their Earth Day Program activities.

Photo Source: Rachel Sapery James