A unique, national treasure is cleaner today following a habitat improvement project carried out by participants of the Governor General’s Youth Award (GGYA) over the weekend.
Eleven students from six high schools and tertiary institutions tackled a major five-day wetlands clean-up and survey project at Clifton Heritage National Park, which wrapped up Tuesday.
The exercise brought GGYA participants from C.V. Bethel, Lyford Cay International, Pace Christian Academy, St Augustine’s College, The College of The Bahamas (COB) and the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) to the western tip of New Providence where the 208-acre, cultural and heritage park is located.
The volunteer activity was in partial fulfillment of the requirements necessary to obtain a Gold Award. It takes Silver Award holders 12 months to achieve gold. During that time they must engage in a physical recreation, skill and volunteer activity for a year before participating in a five-day/four-night residential project.
“At the Gold level, it is mandatory for participants to live and work as a team in a camp setting,” explained volunteer supervisor and Lyford Cay International biology teacher, David Mindorff.
Students camped out at Johnston’s Beach while they worked to clear out reeds from the wetland, remove Casuarina trees, create an initial map for an underwater snorkeling trail and clean-up underwater debris, beach trash and oil diapers neglected after an oil spill.
“They have worked very hard,” said volunteer supervisor Denise Myzell. Ms Myzell, a marine biologist, works as substitute science teacher for Lyford Cay International. “I am impressed with their knowledge of the ocean, their snorkeling abilities and their curiosity to learn more. This whole group wants to learn more and they are really into this project.”
Seventeen-year-old Regina Hepburn, a 2012 graduate of C.V. Bethel High, was happy to take part in an activity geared toward environmental preservation.
“Organisms are now able to enjoy the water without the reeds [getting] in the way,” said Hepburn who plans to study environmental ecosystem management at COB this fall. “I’m now getting a feel of my responsibility for the future.”
Meantime, Tevin Creary-Roberts, 17, of Lyford Cay International saw the exercise as an “opportunity to develop skills I never had before.”
“The program may sound hard but once you do it you will be glad you did,” he said.
Park officials were appreciative of the GGYA’s efforts.
“One of our many objectives is to promote the wholesomeness of youths,” said the park’s public relations, sales and marketing manager, Greg Munnings. “We welcome such activities as this which also helps us financially. We are look forward to partnering with GGYA in the future.”
The park provided extra security while the students camped out, in addition to supplying participants with wheel barrels, rakes, gloves and rafts necessary to facilitate the clean-up.
Bahamas Waste lent a hand as well by donating a large garbage bin to assist with waste disposal.
In 2010, the government partnered with the GGYA to provide financial support and the resources necessary to expand the program into a national one. The funds came via the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s G.O.L.D. Initiative – an acronym for Greatness, Opportunity, Leadership and Development.
Since the partnership, the GGYA (formerly the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Programme) has enrolled more participants and enticed a greater number of volunteers than ever before. New GGYA units have been established and previously defunct ones made active.
This year marks the youth organisation’s 25th anniversary in The Bahamas
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