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DBIS teachers stand up to plastic pollution

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Discovery Bay residents Jonny Haines and Tim Tait are set to tackle a huge challenge this coming February, as they take to the seas to circumnavigate Lantau on stand-up paddle boards.

The duo, both teachers at Discovery Bay International School (DBIS), will paddle the full 75-kilometre distance around the island over five consecutive days in order to raise HK$100,000 for Plastic Free Seas, a local community group dedicated to changing the way we view and use plastic.

The idea for the initiative came about after Jonny went paddle boarding around Discovery Bay last year. “I took my GoPro out with me on one of my paddles and began seeing a darker side of Hong Kong,” he explains. “I found myself wading through rubbish bags and plastic bottles.” Jonny posted his GoPro video online, where it caught the attention of Greenpeace, and it started to dawn on him just how big a deal this really was.

“When this year’s typhoons happened, it really put the situation at the forefront,” he continues. What it did to the beaches was horrendous. And it really became all the more reason for us to go for it and drive on with the idea [of the Lantau Island Paddle Challenge].”

The Lantau Island Paddle

The two estimate that they will be travelling approximately 15 kilometres a day for three hours, provided conditions are good. In the wrong conditions, it could be six hours or longer.

“We had a real dicey session a few weeks ago – headwinds, swells, ferry wakes,” recalls Tim. “It was hard to get anywhere, and we felt like we were on a tightrope the whole time. That’s when reality kicks in.”

“But it wouldn’t be a challenge if it wasn’t a challenge!” Jonny smiles.

The money raised from the Lantau Island Paddle Challenge will be used by Plastic Free Seas to redevelop its website and create educational resources for schools across Hong Kong. Jonny and Tim admire the tangible difference that Plastic Free Seas continues to make in the community and wanted to keep their challenge local and relevant to DB by supporting the organisation.

The amount of money we’ve raised in such a short time has been so encouraging,” says Jonny, but there’s still a way to go to reach the HK$100,000 target (so far nearly HK$30,000 has been raised, approximately half of which has been raised via JustGiving and the other half via the school).

Donating is easy and can be done via the Justgiving page set up for the challenge. If you would like to contribute, head to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lantaupaddle and give what you can. To stay up to date with the pair’s progress, visit lantaupaddle.wixsite.com/lantaupaddle.

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