Who Is Mermaid Echo?
When I have legs people call me Claire VanValkenburg. I am a 23-year-old alumni of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I have degrees in Journalism and Mass Communication, and minors Digital Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies. I have applied my digital marketing and communication skills to my small business, which has proven to be an incredible hands-on learning experience!
I started “mermaiding” as a form of exercise, and regularly practiced swimming with a monofin because it was a great full-body workout! Soon enough I discovered the “mermaid community,” a group of people dedicated to protecting our water systems and making life a little more magical.
I was inspired by their resourcefulness and creativity. They were using the extraordinary and captivating qualities of a mermaid for environmental activism! Also, I was impressed by the effectiveness of the message. What child wouldn’t listen to a mystical creature asking them to use less plastic?
After two years of practicing with my monofin and fabric tail, I invested in my first professional silicone tail from the tailmaker, Mertailor. I like to describe this to people as “the first car that you buy.” It’s good quality and reliable, but it’s still just a start. With this 40lb purple tail I launched Mermaid Echo Entertainment in December of 2016.
Since then, the Echo Family has grown exponentially, and I am proud to have served dozens of clients, companies, and friends at events all over the world! I’ve loved mermaids since I was a child, and to this day I believe mermaids can inspire confidence in children, be the voice for all forms of life under the surface, and prove that you should never stop chasing your dreams.
Is my child safe?
Yes. I first earned my Lifeguard certification through the Red Cross in 2015, and served at a YMCA camp as a counselor and boating director over the last four summers. Meaning, I have vigorous training under my belt for water safety education, boating safety education, child abuse and bullying prevention, SBS prevention, stress management education, blood borne pathogen safety, and more. I am confident in both my childcare and water safety abilities. My certifications include:
- Lifeguard certified
- Irish Water Safety certified
- AED/First Aid certified
- Boating safety certified
- Waterfront safety certified
- Child abuse and SBS prevention
- Bullying and suicide prevention
- Blood borne pathogen safety certified
- Stress and anger management prevention
Who helps Mermaid Echo?
Aidan helps me get from place to place safely, brings me props, takes pictures, and promotes safety while having fun. Aidan is an alumni of UW-Platteville with degrees in Psychology and Criminal Justice. Currently, he is applying for a Master’s in Musical Therapy at the University of Limerick. He has four years of experience working with kids as a camp counselor and program director at a small summer camp in Wisconsin. Aidan is excited to bring whimsy and excitement into children’s lives, and is passionate about environmental conservation!