Ten-year-olds Juhi Juntura and Lia Sinijärvi, who did great on TV channel Nelonen’s Who wants to be a millionaire? game show, donated their €10,000 prize today to the John Nurminen Foundation and the WWF. Helping our beloved but polluted Baltic Sea was the shared decision of the duo who took part in the programme, and their entire class at school.
‘With this donation we want to say to the grownups that hey, you should take a look and see the direction our natural environment is heading. Think of all the things we would lose if the Baltic Sea would no longer be there, or it would be really really dirty. We would not be able to swim or go boating. All the summer cottage landscapes would be horrendous’, say Juhi and Lia.
The Baltic Sea is one of the world’s most sensitive and most polluted seas. It is also the second largest pool of brackish water on the earth, where fresh and salty water are mixed, creating a unique natural environment.
For Lia and Juhi, who go to school and live close to the sea in Helsinki, the Baltic Sea has become an important feature of their lives, and they have studied its shores together with their class at school. The children, who had gone fishing to a nearby bay during their gym class, noticed that the sea was not doing well.
The John Nurminen Foundation and the WWF use the donated funds to decrease eutrophication in the Baltic Sea, to support the better utilization of cyprinid fish stocks that are too voluminous for the environment, and to protect endangered fish species.
Before making their decision on how to donate their prize money, Juhi and Lia wanted to find out more about how the foundations operate. Annamari Arrakoski-Engardt, Secretary General of the John Nurminen Foundation, says: ‘it was great to talk with Juhi and Lia about how the Baltic Sea can be saved. Their donation will be used by the Local Fishing Project, which improves the status of the Baltic Sea through fishing cyprinids. The project not only removes nutrients from the sea: it also brings an underused fish delicacy to everyday use. Seeing children who want to help brings hope to us who work to save the Baltic Sea, and is also a great reminder of why we actually do this work.’
Jaajo Linnonmaa, the host of the Who wants to be a millionaire? show, was also very impressed by the children’s idea to help the Baltic Sea.
‘In Who wants to be a millionaire?, the grown-ups are always dreaming of houses, cars, and vacations. When these two heroes told us that they would use a million euros to save the Baltic Sea, they instantly cheered up one million people on the other side of the screen. Two small heroes with big hearts’, says Linnonmaa.
Juhi and Lia became competitors on the show after their teacher had noticed an ad and told the students about it. Together, the class decided to apply for the competition, and to donate the prize money they might receive to Baltic Sea protection. All through the programme, the competing duo had wonderful teams of supporters cheering them on. They, too, deserve thanks, which is why a small portion of the prize money will be used on a field trip for the class.
Sampsa Vilhunen, Head of Marine Programme, WWF, +358 40 550 3854, sampsa.vilhunen(at)wwf.fi
Tarja Hakala, Director, Fundraising, WWF, +358 500 419 679, tarja.hakala(at)wwf.fi
Miina Mäki, Project Manager, Local Fishing Project, John Nurminen Foundation, +358 50 576 3298, miina.maki(at)jnfoundation.fi
Minna Korpela, Director, Fundraising, John Nurminen Foundation, +358 40 508 6015, minna.korpela(at)jnfoundation.fi
Interview requests for Juhi and Lia: Antti Haavisto, Planner, WWF, +358 40 845 6842, antti.haavisto(at)wwf.fi
WWF Finland is a part of the extensive and international WWF network, with offices in approximately 50 countries, and operations in more than one hundred countries. Building a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. wwf.fi.
The mission of the John Nurminen Foundation, established in 1992, is to save the Baltic Sea and its heritage for future generations. The objective of the Clean Baltic Sea projects is to improve the status of the Baltic Sea with concrete measures that reduce the nutrient load and environmental risks faced by the sea. The Clean Baltic Sea projects are financed with private donations and public funding.