Challenging, rewarding year for GGYA
Normally technology facilitates progress, but when it comes to the Governor General’s Youth Award (GGYA), it just might be standing in the way of it.
Coming out of its annual general meeting held recently at Government House, the program indicated awards disbursement and registration had dipped year over year.
“The decline in registration and awards can be contributed to completely reverting to the online record book (ORBs) and use of all the other digital tools,” said Denise Mortimer, national executive director.
Previously participants utilized pen and paper to record their time and progress in the program that enables young people to demonstrate self-development within an internationally recognized framework.
Comprised of three levels — bronze, silver and gold — each progressively more challenging, the program encourages young people to develop skills, give service to others and promote physical recreation and adventurous journeys.
To overcome its slump, GGYA has enlisted the help of volunteer and training leader Jacqueline Lightbourne-Maycock to facilitate the technological transition.
Archdeacon James Palacious, chairman of the management council, the entity responsible for the day-to-day running of the organization, said more work is needed to target those youths in public schools. Of the 35 units attached to schools and organizations in New Providence, 11 are embedded in the government’s educational system.
“We have a disproportionately low number of public schools [units] in New Providence, and this is where the organization is based. It means we ought to be doing better. This is where we really have the at-risk kids,” he said. “We are all aware we are functioning at a time where so many things are competing for the attention of our young people but we must not let the devil get them. We must be the ones to be the primary influence in their lives.”
At a national level GGYA has a presence in 34 government schools, 26 independent schools, two uniformed organizations and two universities.
In 2017, the program registered 1,773 participants and saw 239 awards disbursed among its 68 units.
Around the archipelago
Grand Bahama had the second-largest number of units and participants next to New Providence. Abaco has three units, although only one remained active with 30 participants and four volunteers.
Eleuthera has 17 volunteers responsible for 89 participants. Units included Central Eleuthera High, Harbour Island All Age School, North Eleuthera High School, Preston H. Albury High School and Samuel Guy Pinder All Age School.
Andros had 70 participants involved from four units — Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI), Mangrove Cay High School, North Andros High School and South Andros High School.
The one unit in the Berry Islands was located in Bullocks Harbour at the R.N. Gomez All Age School. They have 21 participants with one volunteer.
Inagua also had one unit that continued to remain active with the work of three volunteers. Located at the only school on the island, the Inagua All Age School has 16 participants. Three received their respective awards.
Rounding out GGYA’s units on the Family Islands were the two high schools on Long Island. Units were located at the North Long Island High School and in the south at N.G.M. Major High School. Two volunteers in the north supervised 16 participants. Down south, 27 participants had five advisors.
Continuing in its mandate to reach young people regardless of their geographical and personal background, 107 participants were identified as marginalized youths; 103 came from immigrant communities, or possessed an ethnic minority background and 11 were considered to have a physical, learning or some other disability.
On the financial front, Everette Mackey, treasurer of the GGYA board of trustees, said the organization met all its financial obligations in a timely manner.
“We have been challenged with some new members enrolling online and not paying promptly, but it did not hamper our work,” he reported.
Funding from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture helped with the anticipated shortfall experienced from the northern islands.
“For some time now the northern region has been experiencing a downturn in its economy. The onslaught of the previous hurricane did not help the already depressed situation,” said Mackey. “Many islands are facing some difficult times financially. However, the funds received from the government have been able to assist.”
The program – fortunate enough to have been visited and assisted with award presentations and fundraising by members of the British Royal Family – will continue to be “one of the outstanding youth organizations of our country”, affirmed John Bethell Jr., chairman of GGYA’s board of trustees.