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South Andros receives its first GGYA Awards
By Tosheena Blair
May 30, 2018 - 8:14:47 PM

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The Governor General’s Youth Award held its first Bronze Award ceremony in Kemp’s Bay, South Andros at the Marion Forbes Centre on Thursday, May 24. Ten participants were honored for their efforts. ​From L to R: Denise Mortimer (National Executive Director); Ms. Raynessia Watkins (GGYA Volunteer, South Andros High School); Mr. Jerome Forbes (District Superintendent South Andros and Mangrove, GGYA Coordinator South Andros and Mangrove Cay); Mrs. Sheena Duncombe (Principal, South Andros High School); Mr. Zebadee Rolle (Chief Councillor, South Andros District); Mrs. Cheryl Ingraham (Unit Leader, South Andros High School) and Ms. Susan Glinton (GGYA Management Council P.R. Executive) and students.

Although she lived only 3.5 miles away in Kemp’s Bay, it took Cassidy Rolle 16 years to visit Black Point, South Andros.
“I’ve lived in Andros all my life and had never explored Black Point until a hiking expedition with the Governor General’s Youth Award took me there. It was a new experience,” said the South Andros High twelfth grader who received her Bronze Award from the internationally recognized programme on Thursday, May 24.
GGYA creates opportunities for young people to develop skills, get physically active, give service and experience adventure. The latter comes during the two-day, one-night adventurous journey (hiking expedition) where Bronze participants walk a minimum of 15 miles.

“The programme provided an opportunity for participants to investigate different landscapes during practice and qualifying hikes. During the adventurous journey they gained a better understanding of where they live,” said Jerome Forbes, the Ministry of Education’s district superintendent for schools in South Andros and Mangrove Cay and GGYA’s district coordinator.
Rolle, a front-runner for valedictorian in her 2018 graduating class, was among 10 students from South Andros to ever receive an Award from the world’s leading youth achievement programme, which build’s skills in teens and young adults to equip them for life and work.
In the process, participants aged 14 to 24 learn more about and become engaged with their community.
For Rolle, who is off to the University of The Bahamas for the fall semester to major in secondary education, the program enhanced her leadership skills.
“The group wasn’t as cooperative as I would like so I had to take the lead to show them what to do and ultimately get the job done,” she said. “Overall the experience was a great one. I look forward to completing my Silver and Gold Award at the University of The Bahamas.”
Established in 2016, the South Andros unit has suffered from attrition. Re-energized, in 2017, 30 participants joined the programme when it came on stream last September. Ten, just below 10 per cent of the 119 student population, completed the journey.
“This first cohort of successful participants worked as a catalyst, sparking interest in the programme,” said Cheryl Ingraham, the school’s unit leader. “Based on the stories this first group told their peers we already have another group of 30 registered. I can see potential for growth here at South Andros High.”
Although twelfth graders made up the bulk of the participants, two tenth graders and one eleventh grader receiving their Bronze Awards intend to pursue Silver.

“This is exciting to me because it means the programme can continue,” said Principal Sheena Duncombe. “We have students in grade eight looking forward to joining the programme when they turn 14. The habit has been to start and drop out.”

The Award concept is one of individual challenge. Through a programme of voluntary activities GGYA encourages personal discovery and growth, self-reliance, perseverance, responsibility to themselves and service to their community. An all-inclusive programme, GGYA is for any young person regardless of their standing.

“I’ve seen tremendous growth from two students who were very immature and playful when they joined the programme. Now, they’re both very independent and able to work in a team setting,” Ms Ingraham recalled. 

“We had another student who was very impatient and got agitated easily at the beginning of the programme. During his process of self-development I watched him assist another participant who did not wear the proper shoes and got blisters. He bandaged her feet and assisted her, ensuring no one got left behind.”

The strength of the Award is its ability to readily partner with other youth organizations and extracurricular activities.

Mr. Forbes noted: “Young people understand this programme isn’t competing with other clubs but rewarding them for their participation in different groups.”

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