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In the Prime Minister's address on crime, he invited the populace to increase the level of volunteerism, something he felt would reduce the crime level. People from many sectors in The Bahamas have been and continue to be involved in volunteerism.
You name it - Rotary, Kiwanis, fraternities, the church, Yellowbirds, The Cancer Society, etc. Much has been done and continues to be done by volunteers in The Bahamas. There is however a whole body of volunteerism which has not gone unnoticed. We are speaking about the sporting community which strives on volunteers.
At the closing ceremony of this summer's IAAF World Championships numerous volunteers were at center stage on the field. We often forget how many volunteers are needed to pull off a national, regional, or international competition, much less to carry on a continual program of bringing athletes from the introduction to a sport, to them becoming world champions. Today we salute those unsung heroes who have made a difference in sports in The Bahamas.
The School System
It is said that most things are learned in school. Most athletes have been introduced to sports through their schools. From the track and field perspective we single out Andrea Lockhart of Oakes Field Primary who was instrumental in the start of Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie in track and field. About 55 years ago, Dr. John Carey was instrumental in the athletic start of former Member of Parliament and Olympian Leslie Miller at Eastern Junior School.
Numerous world class athletes can trace their humble beginnings to somebody in the school system that recognized their talent and encouraged them to pursue sports further.
Bahamas Association of Certified Officials (BACO)
Andrea Lockhart became a member of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Officials (BACO) of which Deacon Leviticus Adderley was a driving force. This organization is now headed by Ralf McKinney and assists numerous groups in staging road races throughout The Bahamas, in addition to their regular obligation of officiating at all Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations events as well as numerous other organization's events.
The Club System
There are the numerous clubs throughout the country through which athletes are guided and hone their competitive skills. No athletes who won medals for The Bahamas this year, or any previous year, could do it without the guidance of somebody in a school or club.
In the early years of track and field clubs like St. Bernards, The Southerners, St. George's followed by the Pioneers' Sporting Club, The Ambassadors, and The Bain Town Flyers, to name only a few, made a significant impact on the sporting and cultural life of The Bahamas. Some of the coaches like Henry Crawford, Charlie Wright, and D'ynza Burrows were legendary and contributed to the development of numerous national and international level athletes.
Volunteerism was the 'name of the game' with them. Fast forward to today where there are about 20 track and field clubs in The Bahamas which monitor the progress of our upcoming athletes. Many of them hold their own track and field meets which are heavily subscribed by athletes. Each of these clubs have numerous volunteers who give of their time, and occasionally resources, to ensure the success of the athletes.
Parents are a significant factor in the success of numerous athletes and clubs. Sometimes they act as just transportation to practice and sometimes they are a significant part of the clubs, whether they are coaches or part of the organizational structure. There are numerous parents throughout The Commonwealth of The Bahamas who give yeoman service to the sport.
The Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA)
This is the organization given the mandate by the international body, the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF), to develop and promote Road Running, Cross Country, Mountain Running, and track and field throughout The Bahamas. The BAAA will celebrate its' 60th anniversary on May 6, 2012. The organization's initial membership included president Alfred Francis Adderley, Cyril Richardson, Joseph Garfunkle, Edward Mitchell, Reginald Farrington, Fred Moultrie, Reginald Robertson, Kendal Isaacs, Cecil V. Bethel, Gerald Cash, Randol Fawkes, and Orville Turnquest.
The presidents who succeeded Adderley were Cyril Richardson, Harold Munnings, Paul Adderley, Levi Gibson, Sir Arlington Butler, Reverend Enoch Backford, Winston Cooper, Dr. Bernard Nottage, Alpheus Finlayson, Foster Dorsett, Desmond Bannister, Mike Sands and Curt Hollingsworth (Interim).
From its inception, the organization has been defined by volunteers who have worked untiringly to make it one of the premier sports federations in the country and in the region. As the BAAA moves into its' 60th anniversary and London Olympics year, it is imperative that more volunteers, in addition to the elected members are needed to fulfill its mandate. The volunteers can be to the local clubs or the BAAA.
We have members of BACO who have officiated in regional and area competitions and look forward to an increase in the number of members of BACO and hope that one day soon, one of its members will soon qualify to officiate in the World Championships and Olympic Games. Funding is a critical area so persons who adept at those skills are in high demand. Then there are those who are adept at organization. They are needed in every organization.
The BAAA has had athletes win Olympic and World Championships gold medals and coaches who coached at the highest levels. We have had two Bahamians, Alpheus Finlayson and Pauline Davis-Thompson, who have been elected to the Council of the IAAF, the world's governing body of track and field. In the process, the organization has been influential in the lives of many young persons, in and outside the inner city, who would have been left by the wayside and may have pursued a life of crime otherwise.
Next year will be a significant year for Bahamian track and field. Volunteers are definitely needed for the organization to do what we all know is possible. If you have some extra time or are looking forward to a rewarding experience, please call the BAAA office at 325 4433 or e-mail us at email@example.com.
Tourism is a wonderful industry; it pays our BEC, BTC, Water and Sewerage and Cable Bahamas bills, gives us money to shop in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale and creates mega-resorts that we wonder around as if in a dream. It creates the hottest, coolest clubs, restaurants and discos. It removes most resources from the local grasp, enclosing them within the resort's limits. Locals can only venture there at the owners' pleasure; it is private land on what may have been once upon a time public access property. Sadly, as I walked along the lovely newly fenced in Paradise 'public' beach access, it became clear that Bahamians are up against a monster. While the beach on this part of Paradise Island has been open to the public for years, it has not been public in the true sense of the word in many years. Atlantis actually acquired the beach years ago. Unfortunately, Bahamians were probably unaware of that fact.
As the beach access is controlled and restricted, Bahamians seem to be unaware that they are losing rights that they thought they had as a part of their birth. Yet, people seem nonplussed by it. As the gate stands locked across the 'public access', tourists approach from the inside and are confused as to how to leave. Locals simply duck under, jump over or somehow negotiate in and out. Ease of access is gone. The owners are asserting their right to the land. As the new owners/managers of Atlantis flex their muscles, asserting their ownership of the land that allows people to access the beach, the public wonders by apparently unaware.
A few years ago, Adrian Gibson (Tribune 13/11/09) wrote a piece on public beach access and the right to it. Yes, Bahamians may use the beach up to the high water mark, but he left out that we are not guaranteed access to the high-water mark. Private property extinguishes the right to that access, unless there is a common law right-of-way provided to the beach, which is usual for many coastal communities, but seems to be tentative on Paradise Island. However, the signs do say, as is customary, that the beach is accessible to Paradise Island residents. This does not include New Providence residents. Tourists are less important - or perhaps more important than locals; they do not live here, they simply play here, they do pay though. However, they may gain access by the virtue of their identity; they are not local.
All governments talk about tourism's benefits for the local economy, but what are they? It seems, to date, that they include jobs, at the expense of land. Low-paying service jobs at the expense of high-earning professions, all of which allow for diversity. Yes, we must recognize that the government has provided Goodman's Bay for public use, and so kindly too, along with Montagu. However, as the population grows two public beaches with a smattering of a few other local access points seem rather inadequate. Perhaps, though, we matter less in this country. Unfortunately, the more people feel penned in and ghettoized, the more they begin to act as people do when in confined spaces and not allowed to enjoy the pleasure they see on the other side. As the tourism areas grow, the local area shrinks. Areas such as Bain Town and Millennium Gardens become more crowded and other troubles brew.
What tourism actually develops, as the title indicates is a two-tier community where the tourists that can afford, or apparently afford, the pleasure of luxury have the pickings of the coast and all the accoutrements of the resorts, while the locals serve them to be able to afford to eat. As tourists go, they are unaware of the disparity that they create. They save for months, or in some cases years to come here for a few days of luxury, or to take a cruise. Often, they live out their dreams while here. So the country becomes a place of play, according to Mimi Sheller and John Urry in Tourism Mobilities. It also becomes a place in play; a place that is created according to the whims of the tourist or those catering to them. The place is produced to attract tourists. What is the actual cost of that production? Local development is sidelined in favor of the mega-resort.
As Frantz Fanon argues, locals become second-class citizens. Tragically, the resentment and anger build and it often turns in on itself until it becomes too explosive. Rather similar to colonialism, tourism creates a separation between those who serve and those who are served. This separation is not only mental but physical. Or, it is not only physical but also mental.
It becomes real and as Fanon and Camus illustrate, manifests in physical and psychological ways. We not only begin to kill each other, we also begin to hate ourselves and what we see ourselves as. But we downplay the violence and crime, we protect the tourist areas with increased police presence, all the while encouraging the others out of those areas. Regulations are made to limit local access to said areas, after all, it is private property and if you do not look the part, management reserves the right of admission.
As the coastline becomes out of bounds for many of the blacks who inhabit paradise, it becomes a place where those who fly in for five days and four nights enjoy all manner of pleasure. They play. Meanwhile, the locals who can no longer freely access the coast or most of the desirable spaces unless paying top dollar, are consumed as mere pawns to a hungry industry.
As the local community gains jobs and loses land, it also feels like it has more disposable income. At least that is one of the objectives. We want to buy things. We are willing to sell our souls to buy some thing, any thing that we are told will make us better looking, more desirable or happier. We assume that the tourists who inhabit the destination that paradise promises are happy and rich. That is the image we see.
When I walked past the beach this morning and realized that I no longer had access to it, a button was pressed and a sad realization took hold. As many of the taxi-driven, cruise-shipped-in tourists also realized, but they had to find an entrance. That entrance is at the pleasure of the owner. Tragically, the government did not have the foresight to write in a clause that would protect coastal land for continued enjoyment by locals and others who may wish to live near it. They simply sold it. The owners who bought then also sold and made massive profits. The ones who lost out and continue to lose out are those very people who are meant to be benefiting from all this development.
In the long run, the tourists may be willing to pay $10 or $20 to visit the beach for a few hours as their ship passes by, but what of those rich, and noble locals who braid hair day in and day out, work in hotels, restaurants, banks, shops, laundries, those who work to pay to stay alive? If we go to the beach daily do we have to pay $10 or $20 to swim? It may sound like a little, but $10 times 5 equals $50. A mere drop in the bucket to swim in the beautiful aquamarine waters that hem in these islands. Many can afford to pay this and others will pay it and smile, because they look rich paying it. But the fact is that we have sold our navel string and birthright for a song, much like the yellow bird caught in that sickly sweet rendering of paradise.
To be sure tourism is a great provider of jobs that pay bills. It creates wealth for some and pleasure for others. It also creates envy and discontent. More fully, it creates a two-tiered country where those who can pay to play and fly in for the pleasures of paradise, luxuriate in spaces that protect themselves with chain-link fences against the vagrancies and dalliances of those beyond.
The segregation of the 1950s does not compare to the mindful segregation of a people no longer able to enjoy the natural pleasures of their land because said nature has been mega-resorted. More tragically, we do not even realize it is happening. The Bahamas is certainly becoming a destination, but not one that we can all pay to play in. Paradise truly exists behind fences.
- I. Bethell-Bennett
There has been much good work over many years to expand opportunities for and better integrate disabled Bahamians into the broader community. Various individuals and charitable organizations are noteworthy for their contributions in this important work.
Among the aforementioned are organizations such as Abilities Unlimited, the Bahamas National Council for Disability, the Bahamas Association for the Physically Disabled, the Physically Challenged Children’s Committee and others.
Various social outreach groups, service clubs and businesses have likewise provided generous financial and material assistance to persons with disabilities.
A number of intrepid individuals have also lent their consid ...
In his best selling book 'The Tipping Point', Malcolm Gladwell explores the theory that a product or idea may have popularity in a small circle, but it's only when that product or idea reaches the hand of the right person/persons can it break through to a large scale.
According to Gladwell, the tipping point occurs when the right person unleashes his or her influence on the right thing at the right time and as a result of this influence, the product or idea breaks loose from being contained within a small circle, and begins to spread like an epidemic to the wider community. Most intriguing to me is that fact that the breakthroughs could be set in motion or be triggered by seemingly tiny causes or changes that seemed so insignificant in comparison to the impact it would produce.
Case and point. In 1994 Hush Puppies was a dying brand, with dismal sales of only 30,000 pairs of shoes per year, until a defiant fashionista from New York started wearing the shoe to clubs and bars in Manhattan. Guess what happened! You guessed it! Everybody started wearing the shoes. Suddenly Hush Puppies were the in thing - it was hip! That fall Calvin Klein and Donna Karen started using Hush Puppy shoes in their fashion shows and within 10 short months this brand that was hooked up on life support and had already called in the priest to administer last rights, went from selling 30,000 pairs of shoes a year to over three million pairs of shoes. Simply because the right persons unleashed their influence Hush Puppies reached its tipping point.
So how does this all relate to you? Well fast forward to 2011, I believe that there are many organizations in this country big and small that have the resources, skills, experience, and talent to not only play but dominate their industry, yet these organizations appear to be stuck, unable to move to the next level. Don't get me wrong, some of them are making money, but if the truth be told they could be making so much more. So what's holding these organizations back, why can't they move to the next level? I believe that these organizations have failed to reach the tipping point because the right people in the organizations have failed to unleash their influence on the right products and ideas at the right time.
I've worked with scores of organizations and trained hundreds of employees, and it is my observation that many managers have activated their internal cruise control! Like a vehicle once the speed limiter is activated the system rejects any attempts by the driver to accelerate beyond the pre-set maximum speed. So I watch these managers stuck in ground hog day - come to work, go to lunch, go home. Come to work, go to lunch, go home. It's just pathetic! Watching them pretend that they are satisfied with where they are. Pretending that they don't have any special goals or ambitions, when deep down inside they really do want more, but if the truth be told they've plateaued!
Simply because many of them have been Peter Principled! They've been promoted to a level of incompetence. Just because I was a good waiter doesn't mean I possess the skills to be a great maitre 'd. So in crunch time when the rubber must meet the road, what do you expect to happen - cruise control! It's just amazing! These individuals have the title, they are department heads, they manage teams! So as I interact with them naturally I ask basic managerial questions like - what is your vision to take your department to the next level? How successful do you think your department is? What is your next step? How do you motivate your team to succeed?
You wouldn't believe how many managers respond with the same cliché - "Oh I'm really pleased with my team. Everything in my department is fine. We just plan to continue doing what they've been doing." Seriously? Are you kidding me? That ladies and gentlemen is cruise control and carries the assumption that the department is doing well and can afford the luxury of stagnation. In my opinion this response is also a clear indication that these managers lack vision, are not strategic thinkers, and have become comfortable with the status quo!
But here is the kicker! - There is no such thing as the status quo. You're either the hunter or the hunted. You're either hanging from the cross, or banging in the nails!
Fighting to maintain the status quo is the kiss of death and a mentality no organization can afford to adopt. Beware - Everyday you remain complacent - meaning you come up with your brilliant ideas but they die in committee because everyone thought that someone else would execute - your competitors increase intensity! Everyday you are in cruise control, buying into the silent conspiracy of 'I'm waiting until I'm told'. Your competitors activate their turbo boosters! Everyday that you remain fixed in your ways refusing to empower yourself by taking initiative in some way - your competitors are strategizing, and searching for ways to wipe you out!
What are you going to do? I say it's time for action and this is your moment. It represents your opportunity to disengage cruise control, and look within yourself, not at your colleagues and say I am the one. If this company that I work for is to go to the next level, I am the one who will have to make a difference. My organization needs me to bring my whole self to work, to unleash my influence, to help make this company a place where mediocre people find it hard to breathe. Until you do your organization will never move to the next level and trust me, neither will you!
Stacia Williams offers keynotes, workshops and personal coaching on a wide range of: Personal Branding, Image Management, Customer Service, Leadership, Business Etiquette & International Protocol Topics. You can contact Stacia Williams at 325-5992 or e-mail Stacia@totalimagemanagement.com or visit staciawilliamsblog.com
With the start of the new school year, Lyford Cay International School's (LCIS) student enrollment now stands at a record 340 students, an increase of 11 percent from last year, which is a vast difference from the nine students who were enrolled at the institution when it opened almost 50 years ago. The enrollment figures is for grades Junior Pre-K through 12.
"The continued growth reflects the recognition of the outstanding education and supportive community which we provide," said LCIS Principal Stacey Bobo.
Fourteen new faculty members, who bring an impressive amount of experience, knowledge, skill and dedication to the school, she says will help LCIS continue to offer the best possible educational experience in the Caribbean.
The new faculty members include:
Ken Austin (Music, Grades 5-10): Austin is American and holds a Masters Degree in music education from Louisiana State University. He has more than 22 years of teaching music to Grades K-12. Recently he taught music to Grades 6 through 8 at Vine Middle School in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Gayle Beardsley (Grade 4): Beardsley is American and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Alaska Pacific University. Additionally, she holds a certification in English as a Second Language (ESL) and Texas teaching credentials. She has been teaching for nine years and has taught grades K-3. Beardsley taught kindergarten for the past two years at Tambearley.
Dana Brennen (ELC PE and Instructional Aide): Brennen is Bahamian/American and studied psychology and sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Brennen has over five years experience working with at-risk youth in emergency shelters, residential treatment centers and schools in addition to teaching preschool. Most recently, Brennen was the head volleyball coach for LCIS and assisted with the gymnastics club.
Kenya Colebrook (Art, Kindergarten-Grade 2 ): Colebrook is Bahamian and received her B.A. from Sojourner Douglass College in 2010. Colebrook has been employed at LCIS for the past 10 years as an Instructional Aide. During this time she also substituted as the art teacher.
John Cushion (Grade 2): Cushion is British and holds an M.A. in Education from the Open University. He has more than 15 years international teaching experience including years spent in Bahrain and previously in The Bahamas. He has taught Grades 1 through 6 and has been trained in everyday math and the PYP program.
Cynthia Epstein (Grade 1 ): Epstein is American and holds a B.A. in Elementary Education from Florida International University and a Florida Teaching Credential. Epstein has more than seven years of teaching experience and has taught Grades 1 through 3 and Spanish.
Charlie Jenkins (Grade 3): Jenkins is British and holds a B.A. from the University of Wales and a teaching certificate from the University of West England. Jenkins has been teaching for five years. Most recently, he taught Grade 3 at Tambearley.
Kimann Johnson (Spanish, Grades 5-8): Johnson is American and holds an M.S. in Education with Spanish. Johnson has taught Spanish for the past five years, both in the U.S. and abroad (Qatar).
Heather Hewison (Grade 1): Hewison is Canadian and holds a B.A. in Early Childhood Education from Ryerson University and a teaching credential from the University of Toronto. Hewison has taught grades N-2 and has more than 13 years teaching experience. She previously taught at LCIS from 2000-2003.
Jessica Ibarra (Spanish, Junior Pre-K-2): Ibarra is American and holds an M.A. from the University of Pittsburgh. Ibarra has been interning at the Falk Laboratory School in Pittsburgh for the past year.
Jai Kim (Music, Grades 3-6): Kim is American/Korean. She has been a performer and educator, igniting passions for over 20 years. She has taught music and science at all levels, primary and secondary as well as all exceptionalities from the gifted to special education for the Miami-Dade County Public School Systems. As an AJ Fletcher Music Scholarship recipient, she received dual Bachelors degrees in Chemistry and Music Performance from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her piano teachers include Thomas Turner, Heather Coltman-Staves, Paul Nitsch and John Roberts. Her graduate studies took her to Florida International University where she studied with Susan Starr, the 1962 Tchaikovsky Competition Silver Medalist. Before relocating to The Bahamas, she worked for The California Department of Food and Agriculture as a Community Outreach Coordinator and served as chairman for Music Outreach in the California Federation of Music Clubs. For the past seven years, Kim has been teaching and organizing events for The Ars Nova Music Club and GLEE, a music service organization she founded in 2005.
Barbara Mcilquham (Music, Junior Pre-K-2): Mcilquham is Canadian and holds a B.A. from Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, and an Educational degree from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. Mcilquham has more than 15 years of teaching experience in Junior Pre-K-7. Mcilquham is a two time Curriculum Services Canada Award recipient for her work in developing music and literacy resources for teachers. She is also a singer/songwriter, guitarist and recording artist.
James Maxwell (Secondary Math): Maxwell is American and holds a PHD in Educational Law from the University of New York Albany. Maxwell has more than 25 years educational experience. He has spent the last four years at St. Andrews as the DP Math teacher.
Zina Pratt (Grade 3): Pratt is Bahamian and holds a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts and is currently working on her M.A. in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology from the University of Albany. Pratt has taught grades K-6. She recently completed level one of PYP training. Pratt has been teaching at St. Anne's for the last six years.
PICTURED: New faculty members at the Lyford Cay International School for the new school year are from left, front row, Cynthia Epstein, Ken Austin, Jai Kim, Gayle Beardsley, Barbara McIlquham, Jessica Ibarra, Heather Hewison and Dana Brennen. At back from left are John Cushion, Kimann Johnson, Zina Pratt, Charlie Jenkins and Jim Maxwell.
Photo: Lyford Cay International School
Hundreds will descend on the country's largest resort to participate in a boating event that benefits at-risk youth.
The 25th Annual Showboats International Rendezvous, hosted by the executives of the Boys & Girls Club of Broward County, is designed to raise money for 12,000 at-risk youth. According to event organizers, the annual charity is one of the largest social superyacht gatherings in the world, raising more than $30 million to date.
Brian Quail, the organization's chief executive officer, said he believes that the three-day event will not only raise the much-needed dollars for the children, but also serve as the kick-off to the yachting year.
"Hopefully, we are going to raise a lot of money to meet the needs of at-risk youth that we serve here in Broward County, Florida. We have over 12,000 members that we take care of on an annual basis and most of our kids, 61 percent of them come from single parent homes. Incomes are usually less than $20,000. Fifty-two percent of our membership falls within that category," he said.
"We actually started this event in The Bahamas 25 years ago, so it's really fun for us to be back. We think we have put together a fun-filled weekend for those who will be attending and participating."
The Boys & Girls Club of Broward Country is partnering with Showboats International, the Atlantis resort and the Ministry of Tourism to host the popular boating charity event. Organizers are looking to raise more than $1 million over the course of the weekend.
Mike Busacca, an executive committee member for the event, said he is excited about this year's event, as it is expected to be the biggest one to date. The response from sponsorship and participants has been promising.
"We are bringing quite a bit of yachts. There has been $1 million in donations to assist with the auction. There are owners who donate their boats to charter for a week. People are very excited. Sponsors are paying fees from $5,000 all the way up to $50,000," Case shared.
"We felt that The Bahamas would be the perfect location because a resort like Atlantis is all-inclusive when owners decide to come with their yachts, everything is there for them to have and to see. They don't have to leave that resort at all during their stay. They want to party for a great cause."
Rick Case, the event's founder, pointed out to Guardian Business that Nassau and the Atlantis resort is the perfect location to host the yachting event. It was first launched here 25 years ago.
"They needed to raise money and I came with the idea for this event. We started at Cat Cay in The Bahamas. Every year the event grows. We are going to have more yachts than we've ever had in our existence, as well as guests. We are always limited to 15-20 yachts where now we have room for 2,500 people and we have room for 60 yachts," he added.
"We went from being able to service three clubs with 1,000 kids with a $1 million budget to having 13 clubs, servicing 12,000 kids with more than a $10 million budget. From this annual event, we raised over $30 million."
The three-day event begins this evening with the sponsor welcome reception at the Atlantis marina, to be followed by a yacht hop. On Friday there will be a fishing tournament and a poolside party. On Saturday there will be a beach BBQ, Admirals Club cocktail party and a 'White Gala' to be held in the Imperial Ballroom.
There are some ideas many claim to understand, but which few actually do, such as national youth service (NYS), which the country should better define before moving ahead with any new initiatives that bear the name but have little resemblance to more authentic models of NYS.
In defining an idea, it's clarifying to acknowledge what it isn't. Efforts to rehabilitate non-violent juvenile offenders or provide alternative programs for school-age youth the public education system is unable "to handle" have been wrongly defined and mislabeled as national youth service.
Military and penal oriented programs are not examples of NYS. The former Youth Empowerment and Skills Training Institute (YEAST), for all its merits, though not without its problems is similarly not a form of NYS. Despite criticisms, those who initiated, built and supported YEAST deserve our gratitude.
While successive governments have spoken eloquently of the importance of NYS, they have failed to define the concept. But, despite this lack of clarity, there has been an enduring effort to provide our young people with opportunities to contribute to the common good through community service.
This spirit has produced fine programs such as the Girl Guides, Kiwanis' Key Clubs and an impressive list of private efforts to develop character and promote active citizenship among our youth.
But these laudable programs are also not NYS. National youth service by its definition is broader based involving significant numbers of young people.
Whether we realize it or not, the country has already developed a form of NYS, namely, the mandatory community service program in our public and most of our private secondary schools.
This is an example of having a good thing and not recognizing its goodness, especially with regards to the thousands of hours of service thousands of Bahamian youth have already given to the nation.
But this good idea, yet underdeveloped program, is quite flawed in terms of its mission, direction, oversight and effectiveness. We have to make this good thing even better by holding these school-based programs to a higher standard and providing them with clearer guidelines and better management and accountability.
While there are other forms of NYS that can be geared towards college and post-college young people, and should be thought through, the country already has a national youth service infrastructure, namely, our junior and secondary schools filled with all of the nation's youth, to whom we can provide myriad citizenship building and community service-learning experiences.
Our national challenge is not to launch new programs that check-off some box called national youth service, but to take what we already have and dramatically revise it so that the promise of NYS, already realized in some form, can more fully fulfill the idea and ideals of national youth service of which we have long dreamed.
The Bahamas is missing out on potential jobs in the technology industry, according to a boutique architectural and interior design company.
Alex Holden, brand manager at Bahamian-owned SugarApple Studio, said the company recognized a gap in the market and decided to capitalize on it.
"There are countries like India that the rest of the world outsources cheap labor in those sectors, but I find that we are undersupplying in that regard. I feel like we could be supplying more and outsourcing more to other countries," he revealed.
The company's latest venture is an intense eight-week 3D Studio Max Training Course beginning at the end of the month. Holden told Guardian Business that the course is designed for persons who are interested in conceptual design, architecture, gaming level design, 3D
animations, film VFX and realtime apps.
"We are aiming to provide the course to architectural students at The College of The Bahamas, or anyone who is interested in video game design. It can be used for gaming, animation and for those looking to get in the movie industry," Holden noted.
He added that the $500 course will span over an eight-week period, equating to eight two-hour sessions, once per weekend.
Despite being open for only two years, Holden said business for the Fort Lauderdale-based operation has been steady. One area of business that has been booming for SugarApple Studio has been architectural projects. He pointed out that this field is already a successful industry in The Bahamas.
"So far, we have done a lot of architectural work for some big clubs in southern Miami, one in Dubai and another in Moscow. We are now undertaking major projects here in Nassau," Holden said. "We are looking to get more projects and continue to give The Bahamas quality architectural work."
Holden did admit to Guardian Business that the animation side of the business has not been nearly as successful as the architectural side. He believes that Bahamian society hinders that development, as labor is often funneled into the country's more regulated industries.
"In terms of there being a market for animation, I really don't think that it exists, but I do believe that there is a desire to have one."
He continued, "For example, if you were to talk to any 10-year-old child that has watched a Pixar animated movie, they will probably want to know how it is made and if they can do it themselves."
Holden shared that the course's primary focus is to provide a service that is drastically being undersupplied to Bahamians.
"It (the course) will draw attention to our services, so I believe it will have some positive side effects for marketing of our animation services," he added. "We saw a gap in the market and felt like we needed to supply it at a very affordable price for all."
Dreams are bigger than the problems that try to disillusion you. This is the belief of 14-year-old Kathie-Lee Petsch, a tenth grade student at N.G.M. Major High School in Long Island. The over-achiever, who was recognized at the Ministry of Education's annual national awards presentation for the best overall performance by a female student in the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) in the public schools, with seven A and two B grades, said hard work and perseverance are the things she lives by when it comes to her education.
Kathie-Lee chalks up her incredible drive to the loving memory of her father, Andreas Petsch, a German electrical engineer who was murdered when she was just 15 months old.
Although she never got to know her dad she feels that her academic achievements make him proud and she hopes to keep doing her best.
Even though he's not actively in her life, she still believes she is connected to her father and inherited his passion and love for education. In her dad's memory, the student with the best BJC results in Math and Science at North Long Island High School are presented with an award. Petsch has proudly presented the award to a deserving student for the past four years.
To get to where she is academically, Kathie-Lee understands the value of time management and takes advantage of opportunities.
"I did not get where I am overnight," said the honor roll student. "It's about working hard and being consistent. It's about balance and time management. It's about making goals and sticking to them. I am not saying it's not always going to be hard to stay on top, but it's important to do the extra work even when you don't have to, so you don't get overwhelmed."
Her method for studying effectively is to find a quiet corner in any given environment (preferably her home) and tackle her most intense subjects like Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Mathematics and English first. Then she relaxes and catches up on subjects that are easier for her like Spanish and Commerce. She has a strict evening schedule that she adheres to after school so that she does not lose her focus or fall behind in her studies.
Kathie-Lee also believes in always challenging herself and not getting comfortable even if she attains a goal. Even though she did well in her BJC's and received A grades in English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Health Science, General Science, Religious Knowledge and Technical Drawing, and a B grade in Art and Design, she said that does not distract her. She's upping the ante as she aims for a perfect 4.0 grade point average. It's currently 3.39.
"I know I am capable of getting a 4.0 grade point average, so I am looking forward to really showing that I can. I am currently still getting used to my new courses and I am sure in no time I will do what I set out to do."
She said she really needs to keep up her grades if she wants to get into a good university and make her dream of becoming a pediatric psychologist a reality.
Determination and persistence is only one of the key ingredients to Kathie-Lee's recipe for success. Her familial support system which she feels is unshakeable is also key. She's an only child, but she lives in a home with five other people, including her mother, Lucinda Petsch and aunts Janetta and Dezerine Cooper, grandmother Rowena Cooper and an eight-year-old cousin Deneshia Johnson. She says their presence gives her the sense of home and support that makes her comfortable and relaxed enough to study her best.
"My mother is especially very supportive of me and is always interested in what I am doing or studying. She ensures she knows exactly what is going on and if I don't know something she helps me. If she can't help, she ensures she gets me the resources so I can learn and do my best."
While she strives to do her best academically, Kathie-Lee says she also knows that there is much more to life and to being a good student than simply cramming her mind with facts and equations. She also values extra-curricular activities and makes time to have fun. She is active in the Governor General Youth Awards Program and has gotten the bronze and silver medals of achievement. She is also part of the Bahamas Youth Network -- a Christian-focused group that focuses on community services. To enhance her Spanish-speaking skills she also joined Club Bajamar and hopes to travel to Cuba during the Easter break to make use of what she's learned. She also ensures she keeps her focus on God in all that she does in being a member of her church's (Church of God the Bight) youth and young adult group, the Family Training Hour. The smart student even takes time out to be a part of the peer tutoring program in her school, which encourages academically-gifted students to assist those who are struggling with their work.
"I think it's very important to be active in things other than my schoolwork. Being in numerous activities forces me to manage my time better," she says. "I also am useful to my community and make myself more well-rounded [because] being in numerous clubs also looks good on my college resume. Besides you do need to relax sometimes, learn new things and just have fun."
Her advice to all students who wish to excel is to always continue to strive for excellence in all they do. She says achieveing perfect A grades is always great, but said it is not right to judge what others can do to what you know you are capable of. If your best grade is a C or a B, then she said you should do your best to achieve those grades. As long as you work as hard as you can, she said knowing that you could not have given anything more -- whatever achievement -- should make you proud.
"I understand that not everyone is the same and what is easy for me is hard for others or the other way around. I always advise others to do what is best for them and work as hard as they can. If you need help get it, but the real key to all of this is doing what you personally can and continuing to challenge yourself. Do not procrastinate when it comes to your work, and it never hurts to ask questions. No one knows everything, so as long as you remember that you will not only do well but you will be the best that you can be."
Two of the greatest legends in women's tennis history along with two former number one ranked players in the world, are going to face off against each other in an epic doubles match, at the 2nd Bahamas Open in New Providence, on Sunday March 11, at the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association's (BLTA) National Tennis Center.
Martina Navratilova, considered to be one of the best women tennis player of all-time, will battle Monica Seles, one of the best ever in the sport, in this mega doubles match. Not to be outdone, Jennifer Capriati, a tennis phenom at 13, will team up with Seles to go up against Navratilova and her partner Mary Joe Fernandez, another former top player. Capriati hurt her arm in an exhibition match in Europe and is hoping to be able to play by the tournament date. She is expected to attend The Bahamas Open regardless, and if she can't play, Zina Garrison, another former top player, is expected to take her place.
This historic event is scheduled to take place on March 11, the opening day of the 2nd Bahamas Open, an International Tennis Federation (ITF) sanctioned event, that carries a total purse of $100,000. Both the Tennis Channel and ESPN are expected into town for the broadcast of the mega doubles match and semi-finals and finals of the open singles and doubles.
Last year, The Bahamas made history when it was hosted for the first time ever a major pro women tennis tournament. The event also set a record for the most top players, all in the top 100 ranking in the world, in the Main Draw for a $100,000 prize money tournament. Now, they are set to do it again.
"All the players that were in our Main Draw last year, only play in million-dollar prize money tournaments," said Ty Olander, the owner of the ITF sanction for The Bahamas. "Never had a $100,000 in prize money tournament attracted all 100 ranked players for the Main Draw. Before us, this was unheard of, but the good news is this trend will continue, as we get all of the players eliminated in Indian Wells the first week. They need us and as a result our tournament was formed."
Seles, Navratilova, Capriati and Fernandez have never played in The Bahamas before, even in exhibition matches. They are all looking forward to coming to The Bahamas to kick off the 2nd Bahamas Open, which is expected to be a huge event this time around.
"We have put together an event second to none this time," said Olander. "We are getting everybody involved from the school children, the tourists, the various charities, the expats, the service clubs and the residents. There will be something for everyone."
While here, these tennis stars are expected to visit schools, put on tennis clinics, host receptions and meet the Bahamians as well as tourists up front and personal. They are all on a full schedule for the three days that they will be in town, as organizers hope the tournament kicks off from all of the publicity generated by these legendary players.
"All the contracts are signed, the sponsors are comfortable and we're ready to go," continued Olander. "The good news is that two of them are right in Florida and the other two are in Houston and Philadelphia, so our expenses are minimal."
These players who are considered some of the best in the world in modern history will all be staying at the Cove at Atlantis during their time here and are expected to take part in various events. According to Garrison, who's coming to The Bahamas as a back-up, she's actually looking forward to getting back on the court and playing in The Bahamas if the occasion arises.
"I'm extremely excited about coming to The Bahamas for this event and looking forward to it," said Garrison. "I love The Bahamas, I have a lot of friends there and it's going to be very exciting."
The Bahamas Open is expected to start on Friday March 9, with a Welcome Reception at the Tennis Center where all of the players are expected to sign up. The qualifiers are on Saturday March 10, and Sunday March 11, followed by the Opening Ceremony which starts with the legendary doubles match with the star players at 5:00 p.m.
The Main Draw starts on Monday and ends on Saturday with the presentation of the Lady Edith Turnquest Championship trophy to the winner. Tickets go on sale next week at various box offices and online at www.thebahamasopen.com.
Several travel agencies are already booking accommodation at the official hotel and also at Atlantis. This event is expected to catapult The Bahamas to new heights in sports tourism, as hundreds of players, coaches, family members, managers and fans are expected in town for the historic event.
Each player will be playing for a local charity, and according to Olander, they are going to approach the Red Cross, the Ranfurly Home for Children, the Cancer Society and the Crippled Children's Committee. Each of their purses will go to their respective charities.