A group of fourteen at-risk Belize City youths visited the Blue Hole as part of a collective social program effort between Oceana, the Belize Audubon Society, and Wake Up Belize morning show.

The initiative was a two-day trip in which the 14 boys, between ages nine and 13, visited the Lighthouse Reef Atoll, spent the overnight at Half Moon Caye and snorkelled at the Blue Hole.

"Oceana is proud to support activities which enable Belizeans to enjoy Belizean resources. Citizens of all ages should know what we are risking when we consider policy decisions such as offshore drilling or development projects," Oceana Belize Vice President Janelle Chanona said.

Chanona said the trip was the result of an initiative by Timmy Stamp and Supa P who are both community activists who try to engage at-risk youth in positive alternatives to violence. Mose Hyde of the WUB morning show said, "These kinds of activities are the only checkpoints that will yield long term results."

According to Chanona the young men were very excited about the experiences they encountered on their visit and said such initiatives were fundamental to giving at-risk youth a new perspective. Chanona noted that some the children on the trip even indicated an interest in pursuing studies related to nature and marine-life.

Chanona added that the highlight of the trip was definitely the group's visit to the Great Blue Hole as only a small number of Belizeans are able to visit the popular dive site every year.

The boys got to enjoy first time opportunities such as snorkelling over sea grass beds and colourful coral patches.

The boys were also able to observe turtle nesting grounds on the caye's white sandy beaches. While on the island, the group also participated in beach combing and clean-up activities and played football.

According to Chanona the group of 14 young-men came from neighbourhoods in Belize City including Taylor's Alley and Queen Square.

Chanona said Oceana is looking forward to participating in similar initiatives in the future.

The Reporter