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The TCI Rising Stars Ascend to New Heights



Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Wednesday, July 15, 2015 – The Turks and Caicos Islands Rising Stars Basketball Club (the Club) took two teams to compete in an international tournament during the week of July 5 through July 11, 2015. This exciting tournament marked a first for these young boys as they went off to represent themselves, the Club, their families, and their country on the court.

The two teams were separated by age groups with the younger team being the RSBC Pelicans and the older team being the RSBC Falcons. They competed against teams from the U.S. as well as teams from other countries such as Turkey and New Zealand. The tournament, hosted by the Youth Basketball Organization of America (YBOA), took place in Orlando, Florida, a bustling tourist area known for its many attractions, but the two teams were able to maintain their focus on basketball and stay motivated for the competition.

The tournament itself provided some tough competition for our young athletes as they faced teams that have been playing organized team basketball for years as well as entering into tournaments on a regular basis. Our players gave it their all on the court, playing through tournament nerves, first time jitters, and holding up well to the having the weight of representing a country on their shoulders.

President of the Club and Head Coach of the Pelicans, Mervin Forbes, said the following of his team’s performance, “These boys went out there and gave it everything they had. Some of them developed a new passion for basketball that they didn’t even realize was there and those that had that passion have a new appreciation for it”.
Jonnathan Wynn, Head Coach for the Falcons added by saying, “The effort they put into this tournament is incredible. Our boys don’t have half the advantages of the teams they’re facing but that just goes to show that they have more drive and more determination. I couldn’t be more proud to have been a part of what will one day be remembered as a first step for youth basketball in Turks and Caicos; and I couldn’t be more proud of the young men that rose to the challenge and are hungry to go back”.

The time spent in Orlando wasn’t all tournament focused however. The players were treated to a day at Universal Studios Orlando where they were able to clear their minds of the pressures of competition. They spent their off time between games bonding by either relaxing and playing by the pool or talking strategy for their upcoming games. They even had a chance to speak with the admissions specialist and athletic director of Florida Prep School as they learned that the sport of basketball can be used a key to accomplish their dreams and goals so long as they applied that same level of dedication and commitment to their academic lives.

The trip proved to be a phenomenal experience not just for the players but for the coaches and staff of the Club as well. Commenting on the overall importance of this trip, Dwyane Krzanowski, Assistant Coach of the Falcons and Communications Manager, said, “To see our young men exhibit so much focus and dedication. To watch their love of the sport grow within them and to see them realize that there’s a whole world of possibilities out there for them if they just try; that was the victory we wanted. That was the taste of triumph we needed them to get and we cannot wait to bring them back and hopefully introduce a few more to the experience as well”.

The Club plans to return to the tournament next year provided they are able to raise the necessary funds. FortisTCI is the primary sponsor and the Club has a few other sponsors as well but they are always looking to find more so they can continue to change the lives of the Islands’ youth for the better. If you’re interested in donating, sponsoring the Club, or sponsoring a child that is a part of the tournament team please contact the Club at (649) 243-1866.

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Education Minister announces Platinum Partnerships for internet and tablet program amidst COVID surge



By Shaniek Smith

Staff Writer


#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2022 – Schools did not resume in person learning in the Turks and Caicos on January 4, instead it was back to virtual classes for 7,400 children in the British overseas territory due to an omicron-driven surge in Covid-19 infections.

It was announced on the New Year’s Day holiday for TCI, January 3 in a press conference hosted by Rachel Taylor, the Minister of Education, and attended by Jamell Robinson, Minister of Health and supported by Premier Washington Misick, who was also at the live event.

In a promised update, parents got the not-so-good-news, virtual classes would resume at least until the end of January due to the surge and staff shortages being experienced.  Turks and Caicos, up to Thursday January 14 had over 800 active cases, five new deaths and a 600 per cent increase in hospitalisations.  The Minister said the decision was in the interest of safety.

The Minister also promised to get devices and internet to students in order for them to participate in learning during this virtual-only season.  The press conference on January 13, welcomed partners Flow, Digicel and the Pine Cay Project.

In her address, chair of the Pine Cay Project, Marie Landel, said that an urgent call from Dr. Carlton Mills, a member of their board of trustees revealed that about 750 students would be without internet connection and devices.

The Pine Cay Project responded to that information and has agreed to pay for internet for 30 days students, with its partner in the initiative, DigicelTCI.  It is an $18,000 investment in education continuity for hundreds of children.

“We had strong discussions on what we should do with the money that we collect every year, so yesterday we agreed to the funding in emergency situation of 300 internet connections and devices that are going to help the students in need, and we’re very proud to be able to act quickly,” Landel expressed.

Additionally, the Marketing Manager at Digicel TCI, Mr Drexler Smith, said Digicel has partnered with the Ministry of Education to provide about 1,000 tablets for public schools. Smith added that 75 MiFi devices valued at 7,000 dollars were provided; they come with free data services for up to three months for students in need.

Digicel has also created a special education plan for e-learning with specific zero-rated sites and applications. The company partnered with Pine Cay and other private entities in this regard. Various schools and educational facilities in South Caicos, Five Cays, and Providenciales have benefitted from laptops, data plans, MiFi’s, and e-learning kits.

Marketing Executive Flow TCI, Darron Hilaire, also shared the contributions Flow made to the education sector since the pandemic.

“Within the last three years, Flow TCI, through our charitable foundation, would have donated $130,000 worth of ICT equipment to 2 schools respectively in Grand Turk and in Providenciales for the outfitting of the new computer labs to help facilitate the ministry’s vision to foster an efficient e-learning environment for students,” he said.

Mr. Hilaire added that within the first year of the pandemic, Flow responded to requests from the Ministry to increase the bandwidth to public schools in the TCI. Hilaire said Flow home internet speed doubles automatically at no cost to its customers in early July.

He said that within the last 60 days, Flow TCI announced a recent donation of $25,000 dollars to two schools in North Caicos and one in Providenciales. The donation was in aid of increasing connectivity and infrastructural upgrades.

“As we come to the end of this phase of the project, our objective is to look at doing the same for other schools in the second phase of the projects to further arm our schools with the access to technology to provide the best quality education to students,” Hilaire added.

Amanyara Resort, not present at the press event, was said to be working on additional laptops for hundreds of children despite having already donated to several schools in Providenciales.

Minister Rachel Taylor and her team, including Eugene Grant, ICT Education Officer at the Ministry of Education and Mark Garland, Deputy Director of Education thanked the donors; they were labelled Platinum Partners by the Minister.


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Over 5000 COVID cases on Cruises, CDC investigations launched



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer


#January 15, 2022 – Cruises have continued across the Americas despite the US Centers for Disease Control dire warning that even vaccinated individuals should be wary of them. Now the CDC informs that Coronavirus cases have been reported on every cruise ship sailing with passengers in U.S. waters.

According to the CDC, all 92 ships with passengers have met the threshold for investigation by the public health agency. In every case, the CDC has either started an investigation or has investigated.

Surges in Covid-19 on land have led to spikes on the high seas, revealed that update on Tuesday. Cases have rocketed from 162 in early December to 5,013 up to December 29th.

The CDC warned travellers including those who are vaccinated to avoid cruising in December, following the announcement videos surfaced of jam-packed cruise ships with unmasked passengers ringing in the New Year.

Meanwhile, Grand Turk is still welcoming cruise ships.  Eleven cruise ships are scheduled to dock at the Grand Turk Cruise Center throughout January, according to the port schedule.

Jamell Robinson, TCI Minister of Health has confirmed that ships have been allowed to dock in Grand Turk with positive COVID cases on board.

He said. “Now in each ship there are stations or places for isolation on board…Just because a vessel has people with Covid-19 on it doesn’t necessarily mean we wouldn’t allow them to disembark.”

The minister explained the number of positive cases recorded on cruise ships that had arrived in Grand Turk was .001 per cent of all guests and they were not allowed to disembark.

So far, Turks and Caicos has turned away at least one cruise liner due to fears of COVID exposure in the capital, which has gone from a handful of active cases to now 111, as of January 14.

The US Centers for Disease Control reported on Tuesday that COVID-19 cases on cruise ships have increased to 30 times what they were in mid-December.



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New York, US Epicenter for Omicron “turning the corner”



By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer


#USA, January 15, 2022 – Today, New York is seeing a downward trend in Covid-19 cases, as officials revealed, “we are turning the corner” on Friday in updating on the state of affairs in the city, labelled the epicenter of omicron for the United States.

Before, data from the New York State Department of Health showed that the number of new coronavirus infections per 100,000 vaccinated residents in the State, rose from 29.8 in the first week of December to 222.3 last week.  Also, the rate of new cases in unvaccinated adults rose from 239.6 to 1,583.1 per 100,000.

New York is a key source market for the Turks and Caicos and much of the Caribbean, which is heavily reliant upon winter travellers.  The data showed, too, that vaccine effectiveness against severe infection remained high.

Only 4.59 fully vaccinated adults out of 100,000 were hospitalised with COVID-19 in the week of December 27.  However, that number increased, and the hospitalisation rate for the unvaccinated is nearly 13 times higher.

New York’s rolling positivity rate fell below 20% in recent days, but media reports indicate the death toll in the State hit a startling high of 195 for the first time since the mass vaccination rollout.




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