Registration in the Governor General’s Youth Award picked up pace in 2013, finishing up three percent ahead of 2012 figures, according to data released during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held over the weekend at Government House.
In 2013, there were 1,703 youths in the program making up 51 units, compared to the 1,658 young persons in 49 units recorded in 2012.
Seven new units were established last year, with another three inactive units coming back on stream. Furthermore, there was an 18 percent increase in volunteers with the numbers rising from 129 to 152.
Units were located in 22 schools and two youth organizations in New Providence, while 11 were in operation on the Family Islands and nine in Grand Bahama.
“It is also encouraging to note that in Grand Bahama there is now a steady rise in the enrollment of youth on that island,” said Felix Stubbs, a member of the program’s Board of Trustees, who brought remarks on behalf of the board’s chairman, former Governor General, Sir Orville Turnquest.
“These developments have all resulted from the hard work and dedicated interest of the officers and volunteer leaders of the GGYA throughout The Bahamas.”
Underpinning the success of one of the country’s most formidable youth program is a financial partnership with the government.
The financing arm, called the G.O.L.D. Initiative, contributed some $417,225 to the program, while the second largest stream of income – private donation – saw an increase over 2012 and totaled $83,925, according to Everette Mackey, treasurer of the GGYA’s National Council.
“We are fortunate to have the support and respect of so many,” he said.
Funding is crucial when it comes to the GGYA operating units in Abaco (3), Acklins (1), Andros (3), Berry Islands (1), Cat Island (1), Crooked Island (1), Eleuthera (4), Exuma (2), Grand Bahama (9), Inagua (1) and Long Island (1).
In 2013, new units were started at the R.N. Gomez High School in the Berry Islands; Mangrove Cay High School in Andros, the Tabernacle Baptist Christian Academy in Freeport and Old Bight High in Cat Island.
Also partnering with the GGYA for the first time was the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Rangers, Akhepran International Academy and the Home School Leadership Academy in New Providence.
Delivering special reports during the meeting were Elaine Gomez from the GGYA’s Grand Bahama office, Simone Murphy from Inagua’s All Age School; College of The Bahamas student and Gold participant, Edwin Johnson; Lyford Cay International School’s unit leader, David Mindorff and Gold Award Holder DeShawn McGregor.
Mr McGregor credited the youth program for helping him to figure out his calling.
“GGYA actually opened up my eyes to how much I love the environment and how much I wanted to give back in that aspect,” said Mr McGregor, an environmental specialist at the $3.5 billion mega development, Baha Mar. “It opened my eyes to what I wanted to do in life…what I found was a career I love.”
The 2013 AGM came at the conclusion of the GGYA’s validation process which aims to ascertain whether the program meets standards set by the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, of which the program is an affiliate.
The International Award has a presence in over 140 countries. It recognizes persons 14 to 25 with a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award for completing a series of self-development initiatives and adventurous journeys.
In 2013, the International Award made significant changes to the program and required its members to gain accreditation and apply to receive a license to operate. The Bahamas received its conditional license in May 2013.
Observing and assessing the weekend conclave was David Clarke, regional director of the Americas and Edwin Kimani, regional director of Africa.
“This is a quality program,” said Mr Kimani. “All is good for The Bahamas. There is no doubt you will be getting your license.