Gold Coin Collection by Rochelle Vissers in Western Australia
November 23, 2007
Never too Young to Start
Rochelle Vissers and her report on Sea
Shepherd and Paul Watson
People often ask us "What can I do to help Sea Shepherd?" A young City Beach girl has proven you can never be too young to start saving the whales.
In November 2007, Sea Shepherd Perth was approached by Rochelle Vissers, an enthusiastic 8 year old from City Beach Primary School who has become dedicated to saving the whales and ocean wildlife.
Rochelle and her mum Jennifer had been looking through the newspaper when they came across an article on whales. To their horror they found that once again the Japanese whaling fleet was preparing to set sail to Antarctica with a devastating and heart wrenching quota of 950 piked whales, 50 fin whales and for the first time in 40 years, 50 endangered humpback whales.
They came upon the story of the "Good Pirate" Captain Paul Watson while trying to learn what they could do to help. Rochelle instantly had a connection with this man and his cause - she felt they were of the same clutch and she wanted to stand side by side with him in his quest to protect life in the oceans.
Rochelle and her Mum were thoroughly impressed with the Sea Shepherd website. Rochelle created a little booklet about Sea Shepherd and Captain Paul Watson and made a number of copies, one for each teacher! This was so each teacher could talk to their class about the situation in our ocean. Each teacher was so impressed with Rochelle they were keen to back her 100%.
Rochelle then went and spoke to her Principal, Grant Ward. Rochelle explained to Mr Ward about Sea Shepherd and her idea to have a gold coin donation on Friday 23rd November 2007. Mr Ward was also very supportive and impressed with Rochelle's courage and dedication to speak out for what she believes in.
Principal Ward emailed all of the teachers and parents advising about the gold coin donation, who Sea Shepherd is, and what they do. As a result Mr Ward received a number of calls from parents impressed with the website and the work Sea Shepherd is doing to save the oceans.
In the meantime Jennifer contacted Sea Shepherd Perth letting them know how her daughter would like to conduct a gold coin donation.
Volunteer and Perth's longest serving member, Louis Bell passed on Jennifer's details and her desire to possibly borrow our Sea Shepherd banners to put up around the school during the week before the Friday assembly. With time of the essence, I raced over to Louis' house, grabbed the banners, some stickers and a number of Operation Migaloo flyers and headed to the Visser's place where I was greeted by Jennifer and Rochelle. They were very appreciative to have banners just as much as I was with Rochelle's enthusiasm and the work she had put in to get this project off the ground. There was also time for a quick showing of the Sea Shepherd conservation DVD where the whole family attended with a couple of teary eyes re-enforcing the importance of ocean conservation work.
Finally the big day arrived, Friday the 23rd November 2007.
Sea Shepherd Australia volunteer and
crewmember Jeff Hansen
with Rochelle Vissers
During the morning assembly Mr Ward made mention that the Japanese whaling fleet was heading down to Antarctica, Rochelle's gold coin donation and the importance of conservation organisations like Sea Shepherd.
Recess was followed by the gold coin donation with morning tea, Rochelle was overwhelmed with the amount of new friends she had supporting her in her quest to stand up and fight for the oceans like the Good Pirate. Some parents were throwing in $5, $10 and even $50 dollar notes into the donation tins that Rochelle made.
Rochelle said that she felt so good about what she had done and really impressed with how supportive and interested everyone was about saving whales and helping Sea Shepherd.
She handed me the tin and said, "I raised $350 for Sea Shepherd." Even the donation tin she made was creative, made up of various whale pictures and Sea Shepherd images. Rochelle should be very proud of what she has achieved, really showing us all that one person can make a difference and that the oceans thank her for her work.
During the day of the Federal election Rochelle went to the polling booths at her school. She raised further awareness followed by a quick door knock of the area to raise another $150 towards Neptune's Navy.
It all goes to show us how one person can really make a difference and its all about awareness and education. How many people has Rochelle woken up that will go on to tell others?
- As told by Jeff Hansen, Sea Shepherd Australia volunteer in Perth