Daniell Washington is a self-proclaimed water baby. Born and raised in Miami, she’s loved the ocean since she was 6 years old. Now, at 22, she has made it her mission to persuade school-aged kids to love the ocean the way she does. Through seaside scavenger hunts and boat trips to find sharks, Washington wants to inspire young people to appreciate all that the ocean has to offer, before they become cynical, inflexible adults. “I try to get to the youth before they get set in their ways,” Washington says, “before they get jaded.”
During a brainstorming session with her mother, the University of Miami graduate decided to create a television show geared toward teaching kids about the ocean’s sacred environment.
Last year, Washington pitched her idea in a video essay contest sponsored by the clothing company Roxy, in hopes of winning a $10,000 prize to fund her production, “The Big Blue You.” Her three-minute pitch video opens with her running down the beaches of Miami with a group of kids, scooping up trash and talking about wildlife. How could Roxy resist cute little kids talking about saving the ocean? They couldn’t. They gave Washington the $10K to proceed with her project.
Now Washington and her production crew are in the midst of filming the show and pitching it to national television networks. “It’s always a bright spot in my life when I get out there with those kids and see their faces when we catch a sea urchin,” she says. “If I can do that on TV, that would be great.”
In the meantime, she’s helping organize the April 25 “Fun in the Sun Youth Festival” at Virginia Key Beach Park, which, 60 years ago, was known as Miami’s “colored beach.”