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Art by the Sea

Big Blue and You gearing up for fun-filled day at the beach

Ashley Montgomery | 3/6/2014, 9 a.m.

It’s that time of the year again, when The Big Blue and You wants you to roll-up those sleeves, throw on your bathing suit and get hands-on at the Fourth Annual ‘Art by the Sea’ event. On Saturday, March 8th from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m, the Big Blue and You organization wants you to join them at the historic Virginia Key Beach.

Art by the Sea is an annual festival educating children and their families about marine conservation and recycling through the arts including crafts, drumming dance and other creative mediums. 

Established, in 2008, The Big Blue and You is non-profit dedicated to inspiring and educating youth about marine conservation through arts and media. Just 27 years old,  Co-Founder, Danni Washington says she has

been passionate about art since she was a little kid. Washington and her mother, Michelle Swaby-Smith joined forces to create this organization. 

“I’ve always had a lot of artists in my life,” Washington said. “I want this event to help children learn and understand that when you take care of your body and the planet — it will take care of you.” 

Over the past three years, Art by the Sea has become The Big Blue and You’s signature family event. Offering tons of fun in the sun and different events, adhering to no strict schedule. 

The free annual event is designed to reach kids with mediums such as water color banners, miniature fish made from recycled water bottles, life-sized coral sculptures, bottle cap murals and a giant plastic bag net installation. All of the aforementioned is used to inspire youth to spread their message about the importance of the environment and the ocean. 

A beach clean-up will also take place and those participating are taught the dangers of pollutions, how trash enters the ocean and the benefits of recycling. 

Indigo Paddle board Company will be in attendance showing children how to use the paddle boards.

Washington says that Indigo plans to make a custom board for the Big Blue and You and hopes that it will be shown off at Art Basel.

Washington graduated from University of Miami with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Science/Biology. She is currently back and forth between Miami and Los Angeles, pursuing an on-camera hosting career. 

“Things have been going really well for me here in L.A.,” Washington said. “Since I’ve moved here, I have gotten so many opportunities.” 

Washington was recently featured in a video with Jaden Smith talking about global change, 

Washington says that she is going to continue to use all platforms in order to get her message about the ocean using the technology that this society can relate to. Social media and hands-on learning are the two most popular platforms around to reach youth this day and age. 

“I am so thankful for our sponsors, Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs and Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center,” Washington said. These two companies, Washington said played a great role in helping put together a production this large. 

Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs donated grant money to the Big Blue and You. The Marjory Stoneman Douglass Biscayne Nature Center donated a sea animals touch tank which will allow the children to receive an unforgettable hands-on experience. 

Washington says she is going to continue to work diligently to erase the fears and misconceptions so many children in Miami have against the ocean. 

“I realized that art is a cool medium to connect with kids and introduce them to the ocean,” Washington said. “I want to reach out to them in any way that I can.”