Eleuthera Children Celebrate Swimming Discoveries in New Book
What would happen when island children, who were just learning how to swim in their own backyard sea, used underwater cameras to explore how the ocean affects their lives?
We, Sea, just published, captures Eleuthera, Bahamas, through the eyes of the children who call this island home. The book explores the ocean's impact on their lives, as illustrated by their own photographs and illuminated by their own words.
Jennifer Galvin, a doctor of environmental health, uses her background in public health and environmental science to inform her work as a filmmaker. The idea behind her recent work grew out of personal adventures and public health work with coastal people around the world. She became aware of a paradox: many people, young and old, who live surrounded by water, do not know how to swim.
Drowning is a leading cause of death for children globally. At the same time, questions exist regarding minorities and the swimming gap. Recognizing these issues, Dr. Galvin decided to pursue this topic in Eleuthera by making a documentary film ("Free Swim," in production) and the book We, Sea.
A total of 63 Eleuthera students, ages 7-16, agreed to be part of the We, Sea project. She worked closely with students from the Deep Creek Middle School and the non-profit organization Swim to Empower.
Integral to the mission was the use of underwater, disposable cameras. Many of the children were taking photographs for the first time in their lives. With just a camera, coupled with peer support, the young photographers carried out their mission – to explore the ocean’s impact on their lives and take advantage of the opportunity to experience their surroundings in a new, direct way.
"Experiences in nature are a key factor in children becoming more expressive, attentive, and simply put – healthier," Dr. Galvin explains.
We, Sea vividly documents their creative activity. Their photographs portray a vibrant, human sensibility, conveying both the beauty and struggle of coastal communities. Photographs are paired with texts written by the students, including poetry, personal statements or just a single word. The children’s colorful images and personal words reveal a community that relies on the marine environment.
We, Sea communicates the essence of daily life in a coastal world, avoiding both a romantic vision of island lifestyle and an overly academic approach to environmental and public health topics. Galvin’s work reveals a distinctive yet unifying perspective of humanity and nature, and encourages the search for profound, although perhaps simpler, connections to the complex world in which we live. She is currently working on the book’s companion documentary film, "Free Swim."
Proceeds from We, Sea go to the two organizations that tirelessly support the students who participated in this project – Swim to Empower and the Deep Creek Middle School. To order a copy, go to www.reelblue.net or contact Dr. Galvin at email@example.com.