Johnathan Thurston takes reef to kids in locked down communities

At least 100 school students from remote Indigenous communities will join Johnathan Thurston on a virtual dive of the Great Barrier Reef as part of an exciting new partnership between his academy and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

The students, from the remote Kowanyama and Yarrabah communities, are members of the JT Academy. The dive will be held on May 26, 2020 to celebrate the launch of the JTReefDreaming program, which will virtually connect young Australians with one of the greatest natural wonders of the world.

With the help of reef education scuba divers at the Authority’s Reef HQ Aquarium, the students will enjoy a virtual dive on the reef with JT. The students will also be provided with educational workbooks which look at the Reef and how they can help protect it, and test their knowledge through a series of question and answer sheets.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley welcomed the initiative.

“It’s a great idea that provides a fun, novel approach to learning about the rich ecosystems of this natural wonder,” Minister Ley said.

“Johnathon Thurston is an inspirational leader who can help kids connect with the Reef, inspire them to learn more about it and provide a break from the challenges of COVID-19 Isolation.

“These are the next generation of Reef custodians and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s national education centre is working with JT to inspire them from a young age.”

Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef Warren Entsch said: “This is a fantastic initiative and one that will continue to highlight the beauty and vibrancy of our Great Barrier Reef.

“JT is s role model for many indigenous kids and it is great to see him on-board with this initiative.”

JT, the Managing Director of the JT Academy, said he was proud that the academy was able to make the program happen during COVID-19 and that he could virtually connect with the students, who had been in isolation for almost ten weeks.

“The JTReefDreaming program is important because it is connecting our kids with one of the greatest natural wonders of the world so that we will be able to help protect it in the future,” JT said.

“In response to COVID-19, our team has worked really hard to ensure the kids, who the academy worked with, were not left behind and our educational programs didn’t just stop. This is a great program which I’m very proud the academy could deliver.”

Minister Ley said that it was timely that JTReefDreaming was being launched just as National Reconciliation Week was about to begin on 27 May with the theme “In This Together”.

“The Authority has already scaled up its education outreach programs to support families that are home-schooling while social distancing measures are in place,” she said. “JTReefDreaming is extending that support directly into Aboriginal communities.”

JT said the students and families across Australia will have free access to the JTReefDreaming workbooksfor two week on the JT Academy website.

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