More Family Islands are hoping to strike gold in the near future.
The Governor General Youth Award (GGYA) programme, which gives young Bahamians the opportunity to achieve personal excellence and build self-esteem, has brought four new units on stream in places where it’s needed the most – less populated Family Islands.
First-time units got off the ground in Mangrove Cay, Andros and the Berry Islands.
Two units were also revived in Inagua and Bimini for the first time since the late 1990s.
All four units are being made possible through a partnership with the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture called the G.O.L.D. Initiative.
This is the final year in the three-year partnership, which provided the youth programme with thousands of dollars to make the internationally recognized organization more national in scope.
However, talks have begun on renewing the funding mechanism.
GGYA presents Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards to participants who fulfill requirements in four key areas: skills, community service, physical recreation and adventurous journey.
GGYA National Executive Director, Denise Mortimer said it was important for her organization to bring these islands into the fold.
“We’ve always sought to include as many islands as possible in the programme. We don’t want people to believe that GGYA is simply focused on New Providence or Grand Bahama. There are so many youngsters in our southern islands who want an opportunity to give service and we wanted to accommodate as many of them as possible,” she said.
“I’m thrilled that these islands are now on board.”
Shakira Farrington, unit leader at the R.N. Gomez All Age School in the Berry Islands, said she got on board with GGYA because it provides students with an opportunity to enhance their networking skills.
The school currently has 18 participants in the programme.
“It is also a positive medium for students to channel their energy within the community. It contributes to creating more productive citizens of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” she said.
“A lot of Bahamians are not aware that the Berry Island exists. The Governor General Youth Award is an opportunity for participants from the Berry Island to bring awareness to the rest of The Bahamas that they are here and they, too, are making their contributions for a better Bahamas.”
Ms. Farrington’s school launched its programme on Wednesday.
Participants wore their GGYA T-shirts in a bid to make their presence known throughout the school and community.
Meantime, Simone Murphy, who is the GGYA group leader at the Inagua All Age School, is no stranger to the programme.
“I was involved in the programme when I taught in Acklins and after I saw the positive outcome the programme had on the kids there I wanted the kids in Inagua to experience it,” she said.
“I realize that the kids in Inagua needed a programme that would teach them life learning skills that they can use for the rest of their lives.”
Inagua launched its programme on October 12 and so far there are currently 15 students participating.
That number, she says, is expected to increase as there are still more forms to come in.
“I think it’s important that Inagua be involved in the programme because there are so many benefits that are offered. The programme was here years ago and discontinued. When I was transferred to Inagua last year I wanted the kids to have a structured programme that would have a positive outcome,” she said.
“The kids have the opportunity to set goals, plan how they will accomplish these goals and then go on to archive these goals. This will help them…to accomplish great things. Also the programme allows them to learn different skills that they can use for the rest of their lives.
The program shows them the importance of teamwork and giving service to their community. There are so many good things about this program…and that is the number one reason why I wanted it here in Inagua.”
Ms. Murphy noted that several teachers from the Inagua All Age School are involved in the programme. Officers from the defence force are also helping out.
Vanrea Bastian, the group leader in Mangrove Cay, Andros said it was important to bring the programme to her island because it puts those students “on the same footing as those of the other islands of The Bahamas.”
“Our children would be a part of something that is practiced not only locally but worldwide,” she said. “The GGYA programme seemed very interesting based on the activities that the students would be engaged in and I feel that there are so many life lessons that can be learned through involvement in the programme, which is why I inquired about it being started at our school.”
Ms. Bastian said there are approximately 12 potential participants in our unit. “I say potential because we are still in the process of registration. But, to date the students seem very excited to begin the programme,” she said.
By Precision Media
Caption: Governor General Youth Award (GGYA) participants from the R.N. Gomez All Age School in the Berry Islands pose in their GGYA T-shirts. The school, which launched its unit on November 6, currently has 18 students in the programme. Photo courtesy of Shakira Farrington