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The collision of education and karting

It was a different kind of education for participants in the recent EduKarting summer program – one that encouraged a love of motor sport, team-building and an introduction to associated disciplines with future marketable skills such as media studies, marketing, creativity, automotive repairs, draftsmanship, mechanics, business and financial skills; as well as the ability to drive a kart.

Students learn to drive karts, but also learn all the vital elements of being a member of a successful team, from mechanics to public speaking, corporate identity, road safety and financial management.

For five days, students are challenged to learn new skills, push their boundaries and to work as a team towards the ultimate goal of winning EduKarting challenge time trials in this unique program that was founded in 2013 and now works in partnership with the FIA (Federation of International Motorsports), the governing body of world motorsport. The EduKarting experience gives students a unique opportunity to acquire skills that will last a lifetime.

Susan Schauff, Bahamas Motor Sports Association (BMSA) vice president, describes it as a combination of education and karting. Over the five-day program, students are taught by industry professionals to learn the skills that are needed to become a race car driver and run a successful kart racing team. And at the end of their week-long experience, they get to compete against five other student teams for the right to call themselves EduKarting champions.

“It’s a total stealth education program, so in one week the kids actually learn business and road safety, and we emphasize the road safety aspect,” said Schauff.

In the years since they began hosting EduKarting camps, she said the children have since formed the youth movement to encourage the spirit of road safety.

“We want to really push this to all the schools and try to motivate the youth to really move for road safety…do assemblies [and] make people aware,” she said.

The recent two-week summer experience was open to students from as young as age 10, and encompassed approximately 100 participants over the two weeks. This year, major emphasis from the EduKarting officials was placed on having children from the respective children’s homes participate, as well as participation from Girl Guides and members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Rangers.

“We were trying to reach various groups so they could spread it amongst their peers, because we really want to empower the youth,” said Schauff. “The interesting thing is the kids actually emphasized that they learnt team spirit.”

Even if they came to the camp in a group, participants were split up and they all had a job to do on their respective teams – whether it was finance, marketing, mechanic, driving or team chef; they also had to organize road safety outreaches.

This year, the outreach focused on texting and driving, and making people aware of what actually happens. She said participants organized an outreach which saw them go out and ask people what they thought about texting and driving, in accordance with one of FIA’s mandates, which emphasizes road safety.

“We teach them marketing skills, promotional skills, mechanical skills, financial skills, because they have to do a virtual budget. They are using the kart to show all of this. The real emphasis is to push the kids to give them new opportunities and new perspectives on life.”

At the camp that took place at the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) campus, Schauff said it was amazing to see the interaction between the participants.

Participants in the camp over the years who are really good at karting are also able to obtain FIA licenses, which enables them to be able to race karts for The Bahamas. Schauff said a number of participants received licenses or had them renewed.

EduKarting Bahamas also has a simulator which the participants can avail themselves of, courtesy of David McLauglin, BMSA president and organizer of Bahamas Speed Week Revival, who purchased the simulator along with the karts.

EduKarting’s mission is a viable and practical way to encourage students both mentally and physically in the learning of new and usable skills in an exciting sport and technical environment.

The goal is to encourage student interest by introducing the potential opportunities to a career in motor racing for those with the requisite ability to teach practical hands-on skills in mechanics and engineering, specifically relating to the enormous worldwide automotive industry and additionally to teach the fundamental building blocks or skill sets applicable to career or job opportunities in a variety of industries; and also to provide safe and healthy practices in the workplace in an atmosphere of sportsmanship and teamwork, and through this process, educate young people in the requirements for a disciplined, professional work ethic necessary to compete in the adult world.

And to re-introduce kart racing in The Bahamas, where the first world championship was held in 1959.

“We’ve had the heritage of having had kart races here in the 50s – in fact the first world championship in karting took place in Nassau, and today license plates in front of any kart all over the world is called the Nassau plate, so we have a heritage. So, when they were over here during the Speed Week Revival, and I came up with the idea that out of this we should leave them on the island and create some education out of it, and that’s what we actually did,” said Schauff. “David McLaughlin actually purchased all these things, the program was established and picked up by the FIA.”

Lifestyles Editor at The Nassau Guardian
Shavaughn Mossjoined The Nassau Guardianas a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor.Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics.
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.
Alyssa Civil is Alba