Today I have the pleasure of chatting with Mermaid Raina, environmentalist and educator. Raina is a professional mermaid from eastern Canada that loves working with children and teens. Join me in welcoming Raina to the blog!
Cynthia: Welcome, Raina! Tell us a little about yourself.
Raina: I'm Raina the Halifax Mermaid, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. I'm 27 and hold a degree in child and youth development, and elementary education.
Raina: It's a bit of a long story. In brief I spent some months in bed with illness, and the future was looking fairly bleak. I discovered Hannah Fraser and Annette Kellerman, and like many before me, I was hooked! I ordered a fabric tail to get started... and then it escalated from there.
Cynthia: Tell us about your work as an Environmental Educator.
Raina: I've created a curriculum based on local resources around various points of environmental education. I focus on several topics such as the water cycle, pollution, the food chain (as it relates to the environment), sustainability, and the ocean. I deliver this to children and teens of all ages as a mermaid through public outreach opportunities. Sometimes I am talking to children and doing a workshop during World Ocean's Day, or the Multicultural Festival. Other times I'm sitting in my tail in an auditorium in front of hundreds of students at one of the local universities. My goal is to use play and imagination as a way of teaching these sensitive topics, and to instill a sense of accountability in kids and teens.
Cynthia: What could one expect at one of your events for children?
Raina: It depends on the event. At a birthday party we typically swim for an hour and play with the kids. I give mermaid rides, we take underwater photos, teach them flips and bubble tricks, and pose with them for photos. Then we generally head to a party room where we hand out mermaid treasures to each child (environmentally themed) and pose for photos and play with them during their special day.
A workshop at a school or museum would be different. I'm typically dry in my tail and I lead a circle activity around my environmental curriculum, along with promoting literacy (shark books!) and having a hands on activity. I also send the kids away with a special mermaid treasure in exchange for their promise to look after the ocean.
Raina: Yes, she is! I got my baby sister into mermaiding last December. She did a few trial gigs with me to see if she liked it, and she took to it instantly. She is incredibly talented with children who are shy, scared, or anti-social. We balance each other out. I'm loud and boisterous, she's quiet and gentle. It's been so wonderful working with her and has brought us closer as sisters. She's actually 12 years younger than I am!
Cynthia: Who has been a major inspiration to you?
Raina: Hannah Fraser has certainly been a huge influence and inspiration- as I'm sure she is for many. I'm also very inspired by Annette Kellerman, as she dealt with similar health problems as I have, and she really broke down some boundaries for women! My friend Mermaid Iona also really inspires me, and of course my tail maker Mermaid Raven. Our whole community is so inspiring- when I read your blog I am more and more inspired.
Cynthia: Thank you so much! You are involved with the online magazine, Tail Flip?
Raina: Yes! I am co-founder of Tail Flip Magazine with Mermaid Sirena. We wanted another outlet to feature people and topics in the community. It's sure been a learning experience, and it takes a huge amount of effort and time. But we both love it and are proud of the results, despite the bumps along the way. I have a great drive to share information with people- it's the teacher in me! This is just another way I get to do that!
Cynthia: Do you have any special stories from your mermaid adventures?
Raina: Too many to count! Recently I did a party for one of my previous classmate's son. He turned 4, and he refers to me as "Mommy's mermaid". He spent the majority of the party playing a mermaid game he made up, and was quite verbally advanced, taking me by the hand to swim to "mermaid city." There is so much joy in this little boy, that it's infectious. His smile lights up the room.
Similarly I recently did a party for a 6 year old boy who was non-verbal and non-mobile. His dad held him in his arms in the water, and the look on his face when I dove under and slapped my tail was priceless! When I swam over he was able to splash the water very lightly with his fingers. His eyes were alight and it made my week!
Cynthia: What else you would like to share with us?
Raina: In May I am publishing a book! "Fishy Business: How to Be a Mermaid" The book came about as a result of so many people emailing me for information on how I got my mermaid business off the ground! The book is part autobiography, and part "how to", filled with images, tutorials, resources, never before heard stories, and never before seen tips. I'm really excited to publish it, and learning how to self publish has been a very rewarding experience. I hope it helps all the mermaids at heart crack out of their clam shell!
Cynthia: Thank you very much, Raina. Do let us know when the book is available! Readers, you can find out more about Mermaid Raina at her web site, and you can connect with her on Facebook.
Best wishes and starfishes,
Gold Mermaid Cynthia