With the buzz of power tools, the aroma of freshly hewn wood and the careful attention of young men learning skills they will use in the art of boatbuilding, HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh, saluted the Success Ultimately Assures Everyone (S.U.R.E.) Program during the royals’ recent visit to Nassau.
The visit to the centre, located on Gladstone Road, was to witness in action a partnership between the Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training and the Governor General’s Youth Award (GGYA) Programme, part of a two-day whirlwind familiarization tour for the Duke and Duchess.
Formed in 1955, Prince Edward assumed leadership of the program that involves more than one million participants in 130 countries worldwide, before the passing of his father, Prince Phillip.
In The Bahamas where the award is known as the Governor General’s Youth Award, most units are in government or private schools, with some having as many as 50 to 80 young people participating in the program that teaches self-development and discipline along with purpose, passion and place in life through four categories. But several Award Centers now reach out to students who are not taking the standard path. One such unit is that at the S.U.R.E Program.
At the S.U.R.E. Program, a school designed to help young boys at risk, HRH viewed the woodworking lab where students learn how to build miniature boats, install home security systems, plumbing and electrical work. Outdoors, he toured the backyard garden where the ground was being prepared for planting and chickens were being raised for eggs to promote self-sufficiency. These activities are essential for these boys who were recently enrolled in the GGYA programme. This effort was made possible by a grant provided by the International Award Foundation’s Special Project Fund, to allow more at risk and disenfranchised youth to participate in the Award programme under the title “Building Experiences Together” (BET).
At every turn during a tour of the facility by Principal Ean Maura, Prince Edward showed keen interest and spoke with the young men, their instructors and volunteers like Mr. Vogel Williams, Unit Leader at the centre, and Marine Seaman Tevin McPhee, a GGYA Gold Award holder.
“We volunteer at S.U.R.E. Program to help the young boys as often as we could,” said McPhee, who started with GGYA in Grade 8 and went all the way through. As a teen, he enrolled in the Royal Bahamas Defense Force Rangers which delivers the GGYA Programme, and is now a marine seaman, physical trainer, instructor, and military diver with the Force.
As part to their Award journey, young people must complete four sections at each level, which gets progressively more challenging, and requires more voluntary time and commitment from Bronze to Gold. Participants must be involved in a physical recreation, learn a skill, participate in a voluntary service, and complete an adventurous journey that can be an expedition.
McPhee recalls one of his earliest expeditions with GGYA. “We went to Cat Island and Inagua,” he said, where he completed requirements for his bronze level award. “I don’t know if they do the hikes differently now but where we went there was the ‘pink ocean’…The water was pink from shrimp in abundance there. That is a deserty-type area where scorpions and donkeys and sandstorms thrive. We had to camp there, backpack, cook, hike and survive the sand storms by pulling sheets over our heads.”
To close out the visit at S.U.R.E Program Sure, HRH Prince Edward graciously accepted a handmade gift of a miniature Bahamian sloop adorned with a blue Androsia sail from the young boys in the program. He reminded them to listen to their administrators and volunteers because they care, and also to take advantage of the opportunities that the Award can provide through their participation. He then gave them all a warm smile and thanks.