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Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs

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A global educational platform that empowers youth to connect, create, and communicate for our blue planet through the arts.

Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Contest

Boston, Massachusetts, USA
This multidisciplinary program engages students in exploring critical ocean conservation issues through visual art, writing, music, film, and multimedia. It is a platform for teens to share their questions, concerns, and visions in a global discussion; a community of like-minded activists, thinkers, and creators; and a stepping-stone into the world of advocacy.
Introduction

Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Contest

Milan C., 11 (California, USA)
“This program has been a great opportunity for me to become passionate about a real issue plaguing our world. I hope my writing inspires others to recognize their roles as the keepers of the ocean.”

Milan C., 11 (California, USA)

Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs (Bow Seat) empowers youth through imagination and creation, with the mission of engaging them in ocean conservation and advocacy through the arts.

Bow Seat’s flagship educational program, the Ocean Awareness Contest, invites middle and high schoolers to explore the connections between human activities and the health of our ocean through visual art, writing, music, film, and multimedia. With themes such as endangered species, plastic pollution, and climate change, the Contest has been at the forefront of introducing critical ocean issues to youth. More than 13,000 students from all 50 U.S. states and 106 countries have participated, and we have awarded almost $400,000 in scholarships to Contest winners and the educators who support their participation and encourage them to be active stewards of our blue planet. The Contest is open from September to June every year.

Art-making is a powerful way for program participants to explore knowledge and feelings about environmental issues, find and share their voice, and shape their attitudes about their own power to make a difference. According to participant surveys, 73% of students reported that the Contest increased their ocean literacy; 66% stated that it impacted their worldview or behavior (e.g., reducing plastic use); and 84% reported that creating something (i.e., art, writing, music, films) helped them personally connect with environmental issues. In written reflections, students noted how participating in the Contest opened their eyes to environmental problems and inspired them to advocate for change beyond themselves. Results from educator feedback surveys corroborated these findings, demonstrating that the Contest is an effective tool for teaching students about ocean issues, applying classroom learning to real-world problems, and building students’ research and communication skills.

Bow Seat showcases student work in our online gallery, and through exhibitions, film screenings, publications, social media, and partner initiatives. This provides a special opportunity for teens to display their individual creative skills while demonstrating the strength of their collective voices, bringing awareness of ocean issues to wider audiences. Bow Seat also collaborates with schools and community organizations to combine ocean literacy and the arts in classrooms and afterschool programs, and to ensure that youth voice is included in environmental campaigns and conversations.

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Innovation Overview
ALL
Target Group
13 000
Children/Users
106
Countries
2011
Established
Not-for-profit
Organisation
396
Views
Tips for implementation
Youth ages 11-18 worldwide are invited to participate, individually or as part of a group. Contact information for an adult sponsor is required. Submission is free via our online portal. Contest information, issue and educator resources, and creative inspiration are available at bowseat.org/contest.
Contact information
Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs
Media

See this innovation in action

"In Our Hands" by Ely German, 16 (Houston, Texas)
Student Art Exhibitions
"Save the World" by Lilly Chertock, 14 (Venice, California)
"Plastic Whale" by Dafne Murillo, 14 (Lima, Peru)
"My Second Home" by Rose Ho, 18 (Valley Park, Missouri)
"All That's Left" by Gwenan Walker, 18 (New Canaan, Connecticut)
Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs: Creativity in Conservation
"sea butterflies" by Cynthia Lu, 16 (Belmont, Massachusetts)

Milestones

Achievements & Awards

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Steps

Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

01
Review & Research
Review the 2020 Contest theme, Climate Hope: Transforming Crisis; understand the competition rules; learn about climate change; and explore inspirational media to get your creative juices flowing!
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02
Create
Your voices, visions, and stories of hope are needed to help transform the world. What will you create?
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03
Submit
Submission is free via our online portal. The deadline for the 2020 Ocean Awareness Contest is June 15, 2020.
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04
Connect & Take Action
Continue using your creative voice to speak up for our blue planet!
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