Minister Bowleg Lauds New National Youth Guard Program

Min. of youth, Sport & Culture Hon. Mario K. Bowleg

During his recent Contribution to the Mid-Year Budget Debate in the House of Assembly, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture the Hon. Mario Bowleg pointed out that, as indicated in the document ‘Our Blueprint for Change’, his Government promised to establish a National Youth Guard for young people to receive technical training, enabling them to serve in a Disaster Response Corps.

“This program has a holistic approach,” Minister Bowleg said on March 1, 2023.  “In its short space and time, more than seventy young Bahamians from about 10 islands in this country, between the ages of 18-25 years old, have enlisted in the program.”

He added that the goal of the Youth Guard Program was to equip a generation of young Bahamians to be able to assist the country in the event of a national disaster or emergency.

“Their journey through the first phase of the Program, which has a focus on training, began on January 16th at the Police Training College in Grand Bahama,” Minister Bowleg said.  “I might say it is progressing steadily.”

“Our Youth Guard Recruits have had soft skills training with youth officers and leaders,” he added.  “They’ve trained with officers from the Royal Bahamas Police and Defence Forces, in addition to having shelter management training.”

“These individuals are now equipped with knowledge of the history of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), disaster risk reduction and other topics.”

Minister Bowleg pointed out that the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) provided training on risk assessment, the importance of volunteering and practical demonstrations in the field.  All participants will be certified, from the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institution (BTVI) in Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA), he added.

“They will also complete core courses in carpentry, electrical and plumbing which will enhance their employment opportunity upon completion,” Minister Bowleg said.

He added: “In addition to the aforementioned the LJM Maritime Academy is currently providing Seafarers Training and Watch Keepers Certification; and may I add that they will also be offering Captain ‘B’ Licensing to 10 of the youth guard recruits. This program is preparing our youth for a brighter and successful future. This administration is investing in our young people.”

Minister Bowleg noted that, in a few weeks they would round out that phase of training with the Bahamas Psychological Association and NEMA’s Community Emergency Response Training Certification (CERT).

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank and recognize Youth Officer Mr. Kenneth Frazier who is leading this program along with the assistance of the Grand Bahama team led by Youth Programs Coordinator Carla Brown Roker, Youth Officer Kenneth Miller, Program Assistant Kree Hanna and Nassau Youth Officers Don Collie Jr. and Brian Bain,” he said.

Minister Bowleg stated that his Ministry was “deeply indebted” to the above-mentioned partners who are working tirelessly and diligently to ensure the success of the program.

“Much of our tasks in youth work depends on partnerships in order to thrive,” he said.

“We look forward to the conclusion of the training at the end of March when the nation’s chief, our Prime Minister, Hon. Philip Davis will participate in the Closing Ceremony,” he added.

Minister Bowleg pointed out that the closing ceremony was not “the end” for the cadets.

“Upon graduation from the program these cadets would be placed into the corporate world and commence their internship phase which, is set to begin in mid-April,” he said.

“It is a privilege of mine to advise that an investment of $181,502.00 has been invested into this program to date, with another $512,640.00 to be invested before the end of the fiscal year.”

By ERIC ROSE/ Bahamas Information Services