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GGYA busy in Crooked Island
By Precision Media
Feb 7, 2012 - 12:20:35 PM

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Jerome Forbes Photo: GGYA

Colonel Hill, Crooked Island - Youths enrolled in a internationally recognized programme are keeping busy on the remote Crooked Island.

A rare jewel in the Atlantic Ocean, Crooked Island is home to roughly 300 residents. Fifteen of them are set to receive their Bronze Award from the Governor General's Youth Award programme in a ceremony set for next month.

The GGYA is a member of the International Award Association for Young People, headquartered in the United Kingdom. The Award is an exciting self-development programme where participants improve physical fitness, develop important skills, provide valuable community service and take adventurous journeys (hikes) in order to achieve a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award. 

It takes a minimum of six months to obtain a Bronze Award, another six months to reach Silver (if a Bronze recipient) and 12 months to get a Gold Award (if a Silver recipient).

"The 15 who are getting their Bronze are now working towards their Silver," said Jerome Forbes, acting principal at the Crooked Island High School. "They have a two-day, one night qualifying expedition [hike] coming up on February 29 to March 1. The qualifying trek is about some 45 miles total. It's not in a straight line. They will take in the coast, before going inland and then back on the coast."

Forbes helped to form the first GGYA unit at the Crooked Island High School back in 2007, when he arrived on the island to assume a teaching position. Prior to his Family Island posting Forbes had assisted with the GGYA unit at the CC Sweeting Senior High School in Nassau.

"The GGYA Unit at this school was an eye-opener and a sudden hit with the students," he recalls. "The students took part in community clean-ups. They cleaned the yards of the elderly and also cleaned the coast during International Coastal Awareness Day. Within the GGYA they learned First Aid and were introduced to the skill of surviving outdoors. They  cooked and slept in their tents outdoors. Most importantly, they learned the value of team work."

During the summer of 2009, Crooked Island snagged the attention of other GGYA units when the Bahamas Award Scheme Expedition (BASE) was held there. 

During BASE, GGYA units from across the country and a few units from the Caribbean come together to hike and qualify for various Awards. 

"Crooked Island’s population is only about 250 persons and to see another 150 individuals here was astounding," said Forbes. "It was an experience for students from the other islands and countries, which included New Providence, Grand Bahama, Andros, Jamaica, Bermuda and others to get an opportunity to spend two weeks here."

In 2010, the Crooked Island Unit witnessed two graduates of the GGYA programme, Berkley Pinder and Macalister Beckles return to lend a helping hand to younger participants. Two weeks ago the men - both 2009 graduates of the high school - led a successful clean-up campaign at Major's Beach. This was part of GGYA's participants service hours, in order to qualify them for their Bronze Award.

"I served as the advisor to Mr. Pinder and Mr. Beckles. They came back to support the unit," said Mr. Forbes. "They remember the good and fulfilling experiences they had and they want to pass those good times onto others." 

Recognizing the value of the GGYA the government lent its support to the programme in 2010, when Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Charles Maynard announced a partnership with the GGYA through the G.O.L.D. Initiative - an acronym for Greatness, Opportunity, Leadership and Development.

This partnership brought a significant financial contribution to the programme in order to make it more available to Bahamians 14 to 25 years old, regardless of what island they called home. 

Although her 19-year-old daughter, Dashanique Moss, has long graduated from Crooked Island High, parent Dorcas Moss continues to help out with the GGYA programme. She chaperones overnight hikes.

"The programme is a good one," said Ms Moss. "I saw the difference in my daughter. She's more outgoing now. It's helped her a lot."

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