The call for Kid Reporter applications is now open! Click here to learn more.

Keeping Oceans Clean

“You’re never too young and never too old to make a difference,” says Cash Daniels, 11, of Tennessee. 

Are climate change, polluted oceans, and habitat destruction too complicated for kids to solve? Not according to the Ocean Heroes Network (OHN). The nonprofit organization believes in the power of young people to save our world.

Co-founded by the Captain Planet Foundation and Lonely Whale, the OHN offers educational bootcamps for young people eager to learn how they can use their voice to make a positive difference for marine life and the environment. 

According to Leesa Carter-Jones, the chief executive officer of the Captain Planet Foundation, the bootcamp is “a response to so many young people asking us for the tools and the resources to immediately enact change.” 

Since 2018, more than 1,200 young people from more than 70 countries have learned about leadership, policy, and pollution. This year’s virtual bootcamp in June included young people ages nine to 20 from six continents and all 24 time zones. 

Cash Daniels, 11, a conservationist from Tennessee, has attended three OHN bootcamps. He started The Cleanup Kids with his best friend, Ella, who is from California. Their goal is to remove one million pieces of trash from the ocean. 

“You’re never too young and never too old to make a difference,” Cash said. “Conservation is for everyone.”


Diego Arreola of Mexico started a nonprofit organization after attending an OHN bootcamp. 


The 2021 bootcamp offered sessions on letter writing, policy issues, and activism through art, including music and poetry. Guest speakers, mentoring, and strategy sessions helped participants learn about communication and leadership and how to turn passion into action.

Kids then created campaigns to raise the awareness of business leaders, government officials, and even their peers about key issues affecting our oceans. One of these is single-use plastics. Discarded straws, water bottles, cutlery, and plastic bags break down into microplastics that pollute the water, harm marine life, and damage the environment.

National Geographic reports that 91% of plastics are not recycled. If we don’t act, by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean, by weight, than fish. 



Activist and public speaker Diego Arreola knows that the skills learned at bootcamp can be invaluable. The 19-year-old from Mexico has started Green Speaking, a nonprofit organization that helps amplify the environmental concerns of young people in marginalized communities.

Diego’s first bootcamp was in 2019. “I had this passion for public speaking,” he said, “but I didn’t know very much about the scientific facts behind climate change and plastic pollution.”

Bootcamp teaches kids about policymaking and corporate behavior so that they can begin to change the world. But it also helps them be responsible stewards of the planet. This can start by taking a simple action, such as giving up plastic straws for an eco-friendly alternative. 

“By ourselves, we can make a difference,” said Dune Ives, the chief executive officer of Lonely Whale. “But together, we can make a movement happen, and that’s really what Ocean Heroes is all about.”



Photos courtesy of Ocean Heroes Network