GGYA participants attend global emerging leaders forum in Prague
Three Bahamians were among participants from around the world who gathered recently in Prague for an exciting, albeit intense, global leadership program designed for the next generation of key decision makers and influencers within The Duke of Edinburgh’s (DoE) International Award — a program active in The Bahamas and more than 140 countries and territories.
Local operator, the Governor General’s Youth Award dispatched three of its emerging leaders to the Czech Republic’s International Gold Event (IGE), a gathering of the minds for individuals tapped to drive forward the award’s growth and development in the coming years.
The trio, Jacquette Maycock, Clifton Francis and Arvis Mortimer found the experience enriching.
Representing the very best of the youth achievement program, the three gold award holders (GAH) were provided with training and experience in leadership and were given an opportunity to consider a sample of issues faced by young people in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and contrast that with issues found in their own country and within their organization.
Francis was placed in a small, multinational group of participants that made up the “laboratory” for the experiential learning about leadership, which formed the core of the IGE experience.
His group made an immersive field visit to a children’s home to investigate why participants started but didn’t complete their DoE Awards and created a plan to help turn things around.
“Being a former resident of a children’s home in The Bahamas, I was able to connect to the children there,” said Francis, who assumed a leadership role in the group, narrating its PowerPoint presentation. His group’s closing presentation also featured a resident of the children’s home who left his residence at 3 a.m. to travel to Prague to attend the conference.
“We were the only group that the Prince (Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex) commented on. They were pleased to see we did our homework and left no stone unturned,” said Francis, whose group won the field visit study proposal.
His fellow Bahamian, Maycock, a member of GGYA’s management council, was in Prague to attend a meeting of the International Council, the governing body of the international award.
“It’s about coming together to decide the best way forward in remaining the program of choice for young people around the world,” she said.
“We examined how the award proceeds from here. What’s the way forward? The things discussed will come into effect in another year or two, once final decisions are made on how to best proceed. It’s always based on best practices, but there is a trial-and-error-type situation. We try it; see how it works and if it’s beneficial; then, it’s either implemented or not, amended or adjusted to fit the best practices in the region.”
IGE participation is typically a three-year commitment. Attendees continue to work toward the goals and projects initiated during the event.
Upon their return, attendees debrief with the local operator and help to finalize their agreed goals for the next three years.
“[The] International Gold Event provides us all with an excellent opportunity to plan for growth in our various countries, to ensure that we reach as diverse a range of participants as possible, to help young people effect real impact for themselves and their communities and to set up the peer networks that we will need to make all this happen,” said John May, secretary general of The Duke of Edinburgh International Award Foundation, which drives and supports the award’s global growth, so more young people can undertake the world’s leading youth achievement award.
The International Gold Event culminates with the election of eight new emerging leader representatives.
In 2014, in South Korea, Mortimer was among the chosen few elected by her global peers in the presence of Prince Edward. This time around, IGE covered the cost of her attendance as one of its staff members helping to facilitate the exchange of ideas and establishing sustainable networks.
“In Prague at IGE 2017 my term ended with the election of new representatives for the Americas region, but my passion for the GGYA continues,” said Mortimer.
“This is the program that every single young person in The Bahamas should have access to, especially those who are marginalized and socioeconomically disadvantaged in any way. The award allows young people to challenge themselves in ways they may have never done, and the result is a more resilient, confident, socially minded person who can work well with a diverse range of people.”
GGYA is open to individuals ages 14 to 24. To achieve a bronze, silver or gold award, participants must complete requirements in community service, physical recreation, developing a skill and adventurous journey (hiking and camping outdoors).