Saturday, March 27, 2021

Open the Ocean for Kids

Open the Ocean for Kids, will use our new public transit link to the Isle of Palms to make days at the Beach available for some who have never seen the sea. Our inland communities, mere miles from our beaches are home to many children who have never seen the Atlantic Ocean. 

Rev. April 30, 2021

State Rep. Marvin Pendarvis is the honorary leader of the effort. He's actively involved, but until the Legislature is out of session, William Hamilton (843) 870-5299 or is handling organizational work. 

This effort is sponsored financially partially by the AFL-CIO and a number of local unions. You can contribute as well online on act blue at

Children designing a transit system in Summerville.
While it seems inconceivable to those of us who grew up going to the beach there are many, many 12 year olds living in Ladson, Lincolnville, Summerville, Goose Creek, Sangaree and North Charleston who have never heard the surf, seen the sea or crossed the inland waterway. There are seven year old children here who have never lived in a Charleston where travel to the beach on public transit existed since it ended in 2013 when CARTA can celled the poorly operated Island Flex Route. Regular, reliable operation of the beloved IOP bus route which ran from downtown Charleston through Mt. Pleasant and Sullivan's Island to IOP ended with the CARTA shut down of 2002.

Open the Ocean for Kids will attempt to bring children from our inland Lowcountry communities to the beach at IOP for swimming and other fun starting with Reach the Beach Day, Saturday of memorial weekend. We'll be working with churches, youth groups and community pools to prepare children with swimming lessons, organize buddies and safety teams and make sure that these kids are adequately equipped for the ocean with bathing suits, towels, snacks and hydration. This is not a simple undertaking. Any activity involving children is inherently dangerous and requires careful preparation and security arrangements against both human and natural risks. The beach is a wonderful place but it can become a dangerous hazard for an inexperienced person in seconds. No single person can every be alone with a child unless they are a proven member of their immediate family selected with approval of their parents. Maintaining these standards while making sure that kids have fun and return to their communities empowered and enriches is not, ironically “a day at the beach.”  We'll be working with established partners like Pink House Neighborhood Resource Center West of the Ashely. 

The official kickoff for the effort will be Sun, May 16th. Duppy Conqueror's Bus2Beach Party in 
North Charleston, SC. and we'll continue with trips to the sea for kids on an irregular basis when the buses are coming until the Opening of the Ocean on July 17.

Pink House Neighborhood Resource Center
Trips will begin at neighborhood bus stops on Summerville, Ridgeville, N. Charleston, Downtown and West of the Ashley. Our conductors and experienced water safety professionals will help the Kids reach the beach, enjoy the ocean, have a snack and get home safely. 

While planning and development of this program has been ongoing for a month and builds on existing community efforts, we can't yet say how many children we'll be able to take to the sea. For families wanting to go, the effort is easier. We'll begin the effort Memorial weekend with guided rides to the beach from major bus stops for family groups.

We're confident that several dozen kids will make the trip at least. We need social workers, teachers and other people certified and checked to work with children who can swim and work in the hot beach environment to help with this effort. Our goal is a two adult to four kid team supervision structure. 

For the children who make it, we have a recognition in the form of a traditional Polynesian bone fish hook pendant which will show they've made it through their swimming lessons, reached the beach and returned safely from the sea on transit. 

While we're proud of this important effort, we need to prepare the public for the careful way in which sharing it with them has to be conducted. We don't want to humiliate children or their families by revealing their identities to the community at large. Expect a lot of pictures of feet, sand pails and sand castles and few, if any images of faces. We have to put a face on the struggle of our community to share the shore with it's children without showing the faces or revealing the identity of those children struggling with extreme circumstances. 

Activist Milicent Middleton
We're still working out the cost for this program, but our provisional budget allots One Thousand Dollars for the effort, plus some in kind donations of things like towels, flip flops, swimsuits and sun hats. Most of the money will go for safety swimming lessons at community pools and bus passes. The children can travel on CARTA for free, but we'll need bus fare for their parents or caretakers. We're accepting donations now through act blue or you can contact William Hamilton at or (843) 870-5299.

Please return to this document for updates or subscribe to our mailing list. 

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