Romario Valentine lives in Umhlanga, Durban and, like many boys his age, loves swimming, running and hockey, and dreams of being a sportsman. Unlike most children his age, however, Romario has done more than 166 beach clean-ups over the last four years and is an ambassador for several environmental campaigns.
Romario first became interested in the environment when he played an orca in a school play when he was six years old and discovered that orcas are endangered. Since then, he’s been learning more and more about how to help protect the environment and doing everything possible to play his part.
In celebration of Romario’s 10th birthday, he started a campaign to plant 250 trees, asking for sponsorship instead of birthday gifts. It was such a success that he’s been able to fund the planting of 350 trees. At Restonic, we’re also committed to protecting the environment, and so we wanted to meet, thank and reward Romario for his efforts. We chatted with him and his mom, Delsh. Here’s what they had to say:
Q. Happy 10th birthday, Romario! What’s the best thing about turning 10?
A. I am officially double digits! I got to celebrate my birthday by helping endangered birds and sponsoring 350 acacia trees for planting, which is super awesome because we need to protect our ecosystem.
Q. You’re setting such a great example for other kids on how to take care of the planet. Why do you think it’s important for children to be leaders when it comes to the environment?
A. Thank you. We are the future. When we take care of nature, we take care of ourselves. It is important for our own survival.
Q. How can children spread the message to their friends, schools, parents and even further?
A. Children can spread the message by action. I would encourage people to plant trees, do not litter, recycle, reuse and only buy things you need.
Q. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve found on one of your beach clean-ups?
A. I found the torso of a toy baby doll and a syringe.
Q. How can people help to make sure things like that don’t end up on the beach or in the oceans?
A. I think schools need to teach children from a young age about the environment. Children involved in environmental programs from a young age will help them become better citizens and can change the outcome for future generations.
Q. What do you want to do when you grow up?
A. I want to be a scientist to better understand the environment to help protect our endangered species. I also want to be a sportsman and continue to encourage children to help nature.
Q. What’s one thing that worries you about the future and one thing that you’re excited about?
A. I am concerned about children going hungry and wildlife becoming extinct due to land degradation and ocean pollution. I am an optimist. I am excited about my feature in a book called “What a Wonderful World” by Leisa Stewart and Lydia Hall. It will be released in August this year.
Q. That’s cool! Where can people get the book?
A. South Africans can pre-order it from Loot.co.za.
Q. Awesome. What’s a cool fact about the environment that most people don’t know?
A. Forests are home to 80% of the worlds land biodiversity and 50% of our oxygen comes from the oceans. The term biodiversity refers to all species and living things – plants, animals, bacteria and fungi – on earth, making part of the ecosystem.
Q. Are you excited about getting to choose a new bed and what will you be looking for when you decide?
A. Most definitely!Restonic is a wonderful brand that creates idream eco mattresses using yarn made from recycled plastic bottles. Their partnership with Seaqual™ textiles is a productive way to help the environment and give back to the community. Seaqual™ pays fisherman to collect pollutants then they upcycle the plastic into yarn and create the luxury idream beds. A great example of a circular economy. A comfortable mattress is on the top of my list.
Q. What else would you like to say to the people reading this?
A. I started cleaning the beach when I was 6 years old. To date, I have done 166 beach clean-ups, helped 1000s of endangered birds and planted almost 400 trees on 4 continents. If at 10, I could achieve this much, so can you!We can make a difference for nature by doing small things within your capacity. We are the change that we seek.Let us work together to save our beautiful planet.
Q. Delsh, a question for you. You must be so proud! What’s your advice for parents looking to raise eco-aware kids?
A. I think parents should listen more to their children, because they see things very differently compared to us. And if you see they are passionate about something, we should support them in it. I’ve been doing beach clean-ups with Romario. As a parent, I’m honoured by what Romario is doing and will continue to support it.
Q. That’s wonderful, and great advice. How can people keep up with Romario?
A. You can follow him on Twitter: @ArtistRomario.
Romario has chosen aMax Ultra Flex idream bed, which was delivered to him this week. Every queen-sized idream bed incorporating Seaqual™ textiles, pulls 50 plastic bottles out of the ocean.