Over 400 awards presented to Governor General Youth Award participants on three islands
Published: Jun 12, 2013
Over the course of three days, the country's leading program for young people — the Governor General's Youth Award (GGYA) — presented 425 awards in Abaco, New Providence and Grand Bahama.
The first round of presentations took place on Abaco where 27 students received their bronze awards from the internationally recognized program which promotes community service, skills development, participation in physical activities and adventurous journeys.
Island Administrator Preston Cunningham delivered a charge to the students during the ceremony held at St. John the Baptist Parish Hall.
In Nassau 177 awards – 114 bronze awards, and 63 silver awards – were given out in Nassau by Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Dr. Daniel Johnson during the ceremony held at Epworth Hall.
Johnson presented 114 bronze and 63 silver awards to participants during Wednesday's ceremony held at Epworth Hall.
In Freeport, 121 awards – 103 silver awards and 118 bronze awards – were presented to GGYA participants at the Foster B. Pestina Hall.
Delivering remarks were Deputy Director of Education Sandra Edgecombe and Ian Fair, chairman of the Grand Bahama Port Authority and member of the GGYA's honorary board of trustees.
To achieve the bronze award, participants were required to engage in three months of physical recreation, skill development and service, plus an additional three months in any one of those areas. Participants also had to produce a diary of their activities and undertake a two-day/one-night adventurous journey covering 15 miles.
The service component fosters a sense of responsibility to the community, while the skills aspect develops a personal interest or vocational training. The physical component promotes a healthy lifestyle. The adventurous journey (hiking) component cultivates resourcefulness, problem-solving skills, environmental awareness and the importance of team work.
Once the bronze award is achieved, to become eligible for silver, participants must complete six months of each of the three aforementioned components. Participants must once again produce a diary and complete an adventurous journey lasting three days and two nights, hiking for a minimum of 30 miles.
"The ministry is impressed with the work of the GGYA and the response we're getting from our youths," said Johnson. "Youth service is about teaching independence, self-sufficiency, survival skills, personal skills, patriotism and working together to build the common good. This program has done it so well."
He said the national program is deserving of public recognition.
"I want to put it on a national stage to show everyone that this is what it looks like to get it right," he said.
Thanks to a three-year partnership entered into with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture back in 2010, the GGYA has successfully attracted more participants, particularly on the Family Islands.
The G.O.L.D. Initiative
partnership is set to expire this December, and according to Dr. Johnson, the ministry will seek to renew the agreement.
"We have a challenge in this country. We have some serious problems that require attention and some solutions. This is why I am here to support the GGYA," said Dr Johnson. "I give GGYA the highest rating and commendation possible for what we're trying to do in this country."
During the New Providence ceremony more males received silver awards than females. It was a first in the GGYA's history, according to officials. Combining both awards, however, the participation ratio in the national program is split 50/50 between the sexes.
The right track
Twenty years ago, North Eleuthera MP Theo Neilly was a participant in the program and knows first-hand the impact the program has on young lives.
"I'm happy I participated in this program. I am so proud of these students and proud of the achievements of GGYA and how far they’ve come," he said.
"One of the great things about GGYA is that it gives you the experience you need to build your capacity for life, to improve your skills, and basically to cope with issues that one may face in life. It builds leadership abilities."
The large numbers of youths obtaining awards provides proof that a vast majority of the nation's youths are on the right track, said GGYA National Director Denise Mortimer.
"It shows that if there are avenues for them to make personal achievements, they will jump at the opportunity," she said.
Principal of Hope Academy, Arlington G. King agrees. Voicing pride in his students, he's adamant that "all of our young people are not lost”.
The GGYA is a model youth program for a national project. The award program operates throughout the world, sometimes under different names, but always under the auspices of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Programme — the brainchild of His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip.
The program is in operation in 152 countries. Eight million young persons have participated.