Caye Caulker’s Ocean Academy Aquatic Tourism Program is receiving recognition both at home and abroad. Not only did the program win the International Sport for Education award at the 2014 Beyond Sports Awards, but it also won the National Youth Award from the Belize Department of Youth Service. The Aquatic Tourism Program is sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and helps students develop entrepreneurship skills and gain experience in the tourism industry.

Selected from 350 entries, Ocean Academy’s Aquatic Tourism Program was acknowledged as the best project from around the WORLD that uses sport to bring about a positive social change. School founders Joni Miller and Heidi Curry traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa to participate in the Beyond Sport Global Summit and Awards held from Tuesday, October 28th to Thursday, October 30th, and were on hand to receive the award. “When the winners were announced we were so thrilled. The Sports for Education award is a testimony to all our students who have worked throughout the year. We couldn’t be happier,” said Miller.

Ocean Academy strongly believed that children should receive not only the standard secondary school curriculum, but should also be taught skills that can help them in the working society. “Ocean Academy has created many opportunities for students to get involved in the tourism industry here on Caye Caulker, from conducting beach clean-ups to sharing local knowledge of island ecosystems with visitors,” said Miller. “These mentorships and entrepreneurial opportunities not only attract non-traditional students to enroll in high school, but also help our students improve their overall set of professional skills that are transferable to any career or educational path they may follow.” The Aquatic Tourism Program highlights the positive impact that location-based learning can have on a student’s future employment possibilities and the likelihood to remain in school once he/she is engaged in real-world interactions and learning.

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