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GGYA Youth Test Mettle In Barbados

Hiking 50 miles with up to 30 per cent of your body weight on your back not only requires weeks of strength training but, more importantly, an iron resolve.

Nine participants in the Governor General’s Youth Award (GGYA) are hoping a year’s worth of preparation is enough to make them up for the challenge and bring a Gold Award from the internationally recognized programme well within their grasp.

For the past 33 years, the Caribbean branch of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme has held an annual summer expedition/adventurous journey in different jurisdictions.

This year’s Caribbean Award Sub-regional Council (CASC) will be held in Barbados.

As usual, it will attract top programme participants, leaders and staff members from throughout the region, and as far away as the United Kingdom.

Operational director for the award in Barbados, Carla Alleyne expects anywhere from 150 to 170 persons to be in attendance. Participants, she said, could expect to have an “exciting experience” at the event. It’s being held under the theme, “Journey to a Greener Barbados.”

The youths (eight from New Providence and one from Grand Bahama) are set to depart on August 2.

The GGYA’s national council chairman, Jack Thompson; national director, Denise Mortimer; four leaders in training and three of the organization’s staff members will also make the trip.

Ms. Mortimer and GGYA trainer, Jacquetta Maycock will participate in a “Train the Trainer” course and attend the Americas Region Conference where award operators meet to share experience and best practices.

Mr. Thompson will fly in for CASC’s General Meeting.

The remaining adults will participate in courses directly linked to their role in the organization, be it unit leaders or staff members.

The five-day, four-night hike for GGYA participants comes midway during CASC, which wraps up on August 18.

The trip costs around $1,000 per person with 50 per cent of the yongsters’ fees being covered by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, through its three-year G.O.L.D. Initiative partnership with the GGYA.

“For the participants this will be a journey of self-discovery, a way for them to push themselves, challenge themselves and learn exactly what they can do once they put their minds to it,” Ms Mortimer explained.

The youths say they are ready to face the gruelling expedition head on.

“We are so [accustomed] to The Bahamas terrain, I want to experience something different and much more challenging,” said 17-year-old Government High School (GHS) student, Xavier Knowles.

Seventeen-year-old Anae Bain knows it won’t be an easy feat. The St Augustine College (SAC) student has gone all out in prepping herself as best she could.

“I’ve taken advantage of the weekly walks and strength training opportunities in preparation for the event,” she said.

The GGYA has held practice expeditions and lessons on map working, land navigation, compass work, note making, first aid and emergency procedures.

After a year’s worth of work in all four of the GGYA’s components (physical recreation, community service, skill development and an adventurous journey challenge), the participants are ready to reap the fruits of their labour – a Gold Award.

“Although I’ve enjoyed my experience in the programme, I’m happy to be that much closer to my Award,” said Knowles.

Once in Barbados, The Bahamas contingent will attend the CASC Annual General Meeting and other official events before training for the expedition commences.

Once they’ve completed the trek, the group will have to undertake a residential project – a way in which programme participants give back to the community through a work initiative.

In the past, they have conducted clean-up and carried out restoration. The residential project is essentially the last hurdle to obtaining the award.

Participants are expected to have a few days to unwind and network before returning to The Bahamas.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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