Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Hon. Mario Bowleg expressed great optimism Thursday, December 8, 2022 on the impressive number of applicants already signed up to become the first cohort for the National Youth Guard Program under his ministry.
“I am happy to note that we have more than 200 registered already to be a part of this program. We are looking forward to more persons being registered when we start our second cohort, hopefully in June,” Minister Bowleg said.
The Minister was addressing key stakeholders at a special call meeting at the Grand Lucayan resort designed to disseminate information about the program and open the floor for frank dialogue with various agencies and organizations on how the program, which is geared toward incorporating the nation’s youth in volunteerism during a national disaster, can reach its maximum potential.
The government is looking to recruit 100 youth for every cohort in an aggressive campaign to empower young Bahamians and benefit the entire nation at the same time.
The first cohort of 100 will consist of 60 young people from the Family Islands and 40 from New Providence who will be called on to assist the government in the recovery stage in the national disaster plan.
“We want to ensure that we start with the Family Islands, especially Grand Bahama and Abaco, because while we may have police officers and Defence Force officers to be deployed in these various Family Islands, it’s also good to have every Family Island having someone on the ground already to prepare the way for when these Defence Force and police officers come,” he said.
Training for the first cohort begins in January 2023.
The program is being hosted in Grand Bahama and applicants must be between ages 18 and 25.
The cohort will undergo three months of training, followed by another three months of internship and will be on call as a reserve for two years while receiving a stipend.
Minister Bowleg thanked the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, which are the key partners in conducting training for the participants.
“Hurricane Dorian has taught us a lot but as these many hurricanes have come in the past, and those that will come, we understand that the Royal Bahamas Police Force and Defence Force do not have sufficient manpower in order for us to not only to prepare but to respond. So this administration took the initiative to see that it is necessary for us to invest in some of our young people to prepare them to be able to respond to a disaster,” Minister Bowleg said.
In fact, the minister noted that not only will the program participants be able to respond to a natural disaster at the end of the training, it will also provide them with the necessary tools that will prove useful to them in life.
Minister Bowleg is of the belief that there are some young men and women who see the light at a later stage in life.
“This program will allow us to give them the necessary tools that will prepare them an also help them to become employed,” he said.
The minister of youth, sports and culture explained that it was necessary to have the participants relocate to Grand Bahama and train at the Police College from the various islands to allow them to focus on the necessary skills they will be taught.
“This is a serious thing. We live in an area in the Caribbean where we know a hurricane will come again and we must prepare ourselves,” he said, while adding that it is the government’s belief that the best way to do that is to start with the younger generation.
“It is my hope that the government employs a majority of these persons in the various agencies so that when the time calls for them to serve they are free to serve,” Minister Bowleg said.
Also in attendance were Ministry of Youth Officer Kenneth Frazier; Assistant Commissioner Dellareese Rolle, The Royal Bahamas Police Force; Senior Commander Stephen Rolle, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force; Tammi Mitchell, The National Emergency Management Agency,
Ministry of Youth Sport, and Culture Deputy Director of Sports, Northern Bahamas, Norris Bain and Youth Programs Coordinator, Grand Bahama, Carla Brown-Roker.
Minister Bowleg also toured the Police College later that afternoon.
By LEDEDRA MARCHE/Bahamas Information Services
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