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Construction Begins at The Ocean Institute's Maddie James Seaside Learning Center

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DANA POINT, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--

In a moving and emotional ceremony, the Ocean Institute today began construction of The Maddie James Seaside Learning Center. The private ceremony included key donors and representatives from The Ocean Institute, The Maddie James Foundation, and local government including Pat Bates, Supervisor for Orange County's Fifth District, and Dana Point Mayor Lara Anderson. They witnessed the symbolic groundbreaking ceremony overlooking the aquatic site where The Maddie James Seaside Learning Center will reside. From the construction barge and crane situated adjacent to the Ocean Institute's current dock, the project was kicked off by raising The Maddie James Foundation flag along side the Ocean Institute's flag.

Dan Stetson, President and CEO of the Ocean Institute, commented on the historic and emotional importance of this milestone: "Creating a first-class oceanography and marine science educational facility has been a goal of the Ocean Institute for more than 10 years. The Maddie James Foundation has been a crucial partner to not only make our dream a reality, but also the dream of Maddie – a brave little girl who left us too soon. The state-of-the-art facility combined with top-notch education programming and staff will enrich all those that visit the Ocean Institute."

The Maddie James Seaside Learning Center will consist of a series of learning stations to provide an immersion-style education about ocean life and preservation, and will include an Ocean Science Landing or Dock and a Historic Maritime Pier. Both facilities will be built right "on the water" in Dana Point Harbor, adjacent to the Ocean Institute's site. The goal is to introduce thousands of K-12 students and public visitors to current and emerging issues in oceanography, environmental science, and maritime history.

"The Ocean Institute was an incredibly meaningful place for Maddie," said Kajsa James, Maddie's mother and President of The Maddie James Foundation. "Today's ceremony is an important milestone in the journey to share Maddie's love of the ocean with children for generations to come."

"It was amazing last year to witness the miraculous support The Maddie James Foundation received. The community continues to embrace our ongoing mission to support the wonderful programs at the Ocean Institute and promote ocean-minded educational experiences for children of all backgrounds," said Collie James, Maddie's father and Treasurer of The Maddie James Foundation. "We are endlessly moved by the community's generosity and look forward to greeting visitors soon at The Maddie James Seaside Learning Center."

About The Ocean Institute

Since 1977, the Ocean Institute has used the mystery and allure of the ocean to drive powerful, life-changing learning experiences for over 100,000 students and public visitors each year. We believe that 'Experience is the Teacher' and our mission is to inspire all generations, through education, to become responsible stewards of the oceans. Located in the Dana Point Harbor, at the edge of the Pacific Ocean and adjacent to a Marine Protected Area with spectacular tidepools, our campus is ideal for in-depth study of marine science, the marine environment and maritime history. Our Ocean Education Center, which includes At-Sea, Ecology, and Surf Science Learning Labs, offers a varied collection of local marine life in 60 tanks. In addition, we have three seagoing vessels - the 70' research and education platform R/V Sea Explorer, brig Pilgrim, and topsail schooner Spirit of Dana Point. The planned Maddie James Seaside Learning Center will complement and expand our current "immersive" style educational experiences.

About The Maddie James Foundation

The Maddie James Foundation was created in 2011 in honor of Maddie James, a five-year old girl from Dana Point, California, who died from a brain tumor just two short months after diagnosis. The mission of The Maddie James Foundation is to support the construction and ongoing operation of The Maddie James Seaside Learning Center at Dana Point's Ocean Institute – one of Maddie's favorite places. The Foundation also partners with other ocean-minded charities and groups committed to bringing the ocean to children around the country, regardless of circumstance, to show them its many wonders and the importance of its preservation through dynamic educational programs. The Maddie James Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charity organization. For more information and to make a donation to The Maddie James Foundation, please visit http://maddiejamesfoundation.org/. Follow The Maddie James Foundation on Twitter and on Facebook.

Element PR
Diane Whitlow, 415-350-3024
dwhitlow@elementpr.com

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