GGYA awarded international grant to help reach at-risk youth

The Governor General’s Youth Award (GGYA) has been awarded a £30,000 (approximate $41,667) grant from The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation to allow more at-risk youth, including young people in reform schools and those with greater levels of special educational needs, to participate in the program, which equips people aged 14 to 24 for life.

GGYA is the local office charged with delivering the Award, which challenges youth to discover their potential and find their purpose, passion and place in the world. The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation is convinced that a good, non-formal education is essential to equipping a young person for adult life, and so should be available to everyone.

“Although we have previously had some participants from these areas, for the most part, these at-risk categories of young people remain largely unreached,” said Jacquetta Lightbourne-Maycock, GGYA’s national director.

“We not only required funding, but we also needed to identify Award leaders and volunteers who are ideally committed to our same values, whilst also being embedded in those environments and are willing and able to work with us.”

Each participant in the Award learns a skill, must improve their physical fitness, volunteer in their community and experience a team adventure in a new environment. Success isn’t competitive, rather it is a personal challenge. It is measured by young people showing commitment and progress in each area over a fixed period of time. Supporting them is a network of adult volunteers, unit leaders, assessors and the national office. There are three levels – Bronze, Silver and Gold – each progressively more challenging.

The GGYA project proposal received the green-light from the Special Projects Fund from The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation. Established more than 30 years ago, the Special Projects Fund provides Award Operators, such as the GGYA, with grants for projects that improve the reach, access or impact of the Award.

GGYA was one of six projects chosen to be funded in 2020, out of 13 that applied from countries all over the world.

“We were extraordinarily pleased to receive an application from GGYA, as we have not funded any projects in The Bahamas since 2010. We were even more pleased to see it approved,” said Melissa Stoakes, the London-based global operations director at The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation.

“A project delivering the Award to young people who face a multitude of challenges is close to our ethos and aim – that any young person, despite their situation, can do the Award. The project will help young people, through the Award framework, challenge them to discover something new about themselves, support their local community and create skills that will help them navigate the new normal.”

Stoakes said the project proposal was one of the strongest they have seen in recent years and will benefit from learnings from similar projects around the world, while also inspiring and showing others how to deliver the Award in these centers and schools.

This year marks the 11th anniversary of GGYA’s bipartisan support by three successive administrations.

In 2010, under the Ingraham administration, the late Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Charles Maynard, created the G.O.L.D. Initiative to help the program expand and then sustain its presence on every major island throughout The Bahamas. A major source of funding, the financial support continued under former Prime Minister Perry Christie and now through the Minnis administration.

GGYA’s stellar track record of good governance, its ability to create well-rounded young citizens and its international linkages, has helped it to benefit from many financial grants and foundations in The Bahamas and abroad.

Among past and present benefactors are Atlantis, the T.K. Foundation, Cable Cares Foundation, Lyford Cay Foundation, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Social Service and Urban Development, the Department of Gender and Family Affairs and BTC.

“Engaging as many young people as possible, particularly at this time, is key to them getting their education back on track after being disrupted by the pandemic”, said Lightbourne-Maycock.

“We want non-formal learning opportunities to be available to all young people, especially youth that do not have access to mainstream clubs. GGYA is more than ready to offer these young people a chance to prove that not all learning happens in the classroom and they can continue to excel in other ways.”