Young people whose lives were transformed by the Urban Renewal Programme gathered at Parliament Square on Tuesday to show their support for their mentor and advocate, Member of Parliament for Marathon and Minister of State for Social Services and Urban Development, Lisa Rahming.
While she rose to her feet in the House of Assembly to contribute to The Way Forward 2022 Budget Debate, youth gathered in the square, and some sat in the gallery to witness it. They included children who are currently in Urban Renewal programmes, as well as young adults who are success stories from Urban Renewal. Among them were young police and immigration officers, and a young lady who is in the final stages of her education to become a doctor. Young athletes currently in tennis and basketball programmes were also present, along with coaches and administrators of Urban Renewal.
MP Rahming, who has responsibility for Urban Renewal as Minister of State, was overwhelmed by the show of support and excited to see young people. Many of them she knew personally as she mentored them during her long history with the programme.
“It was amazing to see them come out,” she said.
“Some of them are now grown with Bachelor’s degrees! These are youngsters whose lives I would have touched during their younger and tender years. They were members of the Urban Renewal Band and they received scholarships, and did well. I want the public to know that Urban Renewal is not a waste of the taxpayers’ money. It can reap good dividends that can be seen through the lives of the children – now young adults – living prosperous productive lives.”
Twenty years ago, Rahming was among a special group of police officers chosen to implement the flagship Urban Renewal Pilot Project in 2002, by former Prime Minister Perry G Christie. The officers were under the leadership of retired Assistant Commissioner Carolyn Bowe and retired Senior Assistant Commissioner Stephen Dean, who is currently the Chairman of the Urban Renewal Commission. Rahming shined as she helped to implement programmes and therefore, she was afforded the opportunity to assist with the establishment of Urban Renewal Centers in Grand Bahama, Abaco, Bimini, Andros, Cat Island, Long Island, Acklins, Eleuthera and Exuma.
In the House of Assembly, Rahming told Parliamentarians that “Urban Renewal, through Youth Development Programmes, will continue to endow our youth with the knowledge, skills, training and vibrant opportunities needed to galvanise them for bright futures”.
These programmes include the Urban Renewal Revolutionized Sporting League, which includes basketball, baseball, soccer, golf, tennis, swimming, and the Urban “Love” Games Track Meet. The Tennis Federation graciously provided rackets for the young athletes, who had a chance to display their gear while taking photos with Minister Rahming in Rawson Square. Track Coach Dexter Bodie was also on hand with athletes who are showing prowess on the track and in the field.
The Urban Renewal Revolutionized Band provides training for young musicians in concert performances, marching bands and organised dance to assist in future job opportunities and scholarships. In February 2022, Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, United States, afforded the UR Revolutionized Band members new scholarship opportunities. In the Cultural Enrichment Programme – Urban Renewal aims to promote, teach and maintain Bahamian culture from an early age. Classes include Bahamian History and Heritage, Bahamian Folk Dance, Junkanoo Craft and Music (with an establishment of a Junkanoo Group), Choir, Drama, Limbo and Fire Dance, Sewing Classes, Liturgical Dance, DJ and Sound Engineering, Drumming Classes, Bahamian Cuisine and Straw Work. Urban Renewal Educational Programmes include a wide range of after school programmes including the LJM Maritime Academy, GED Programme, Sewing Programme and Computer Classes.
During her contribution to the Budget Debate, Rahming announced that assessments have been conducted to ensure proper and adequate infrastructure for all Urban Renewal Centers, including appropriate signage, flags, office amenities and the implementation of Hot Spot Wi-Fi Kiosks. In addition, the Minor Roof Repairs Department has been transformed to the Small Home Repairs Department, allowing for Urban Renewal to do more to assist residents with their homes. In January of 2022, the Urban Renewal Relief Task Force conducted Domestic Violence Training, she said. Lives have also been transformed, she added, through the Second Chance Program. Legal Aid programs exist to help single mothers and fathers , the elderly and people living with disabilities. The Urban Renewal Authority Bill will be re-introduced to establish the Urban Renewal Commission as an Authority (Urban Renewal Authority – URA).
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