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Save The Bays Pins 24 Bahamians Youth Environmental Ambassadors

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save the bays 2Bahamas, May 19, 2017 – Grand BahamaZhyir Miranda, 12, knew even as a youngster that littering was wrong. But it wasn’t until she signed up for Youth Environmental Ambassadors and saw the damage it could do to marine life that she fully understood littering wasn’t just ugly – it was dangerous.  

“Littering does not just look bad, littering can kill the turtles in the sea. It can kill the animals that live in the mangroves and depend on mangroves for their survival especially when they are young,” said the 12-year-old who rattled off characteristics of red, black and white mangroves as if she were reciting words of a favourite rap tune.

On Saturday, Zhyir was pinned for her passion, rewarded for her enthusiasm.  The Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Academy seventh grader became one of 24 young Bahamians certified as Youth Environmental Ambassadors (YEA), a program sponsored and operated by the environmental advocacy organization Save The Bays.

save the baysFor the past four months, junior high students like Zhyir spent every second Saturday trekking through bush, cleaning beaches, learning about wetlands, studying the impact of plastic on oxygen supply of salt or fresh water marine life.    All activities, both in the classroom at the YMCA in Freeport and in the field, were geared toward making participants future leaders in environmental stewardship.

“This was the fourth year Save the Bays has offered Youth Environmental Ambassadors to youth in Grand Bahama,” said Rashema Ingraham who oversees the popular program that normally draws twice as many applicants as there is space to accommodate.   More than 200 have graduated. The last 4-month session, Ingraham said, differed from former versions of the program.

“In the past, we spent a lot of time visiting sites, learning about how industrial waste is managed, for instance, or power generated or what it takes to produce solar energy. But this time we focused on research which we shared with organisations abroad.   The work that participants did was very important.   They gathered data about shoreline erosion, indigeneous vegetation and wetlands. Some of the work involved fine detail.   There were sections of beach, for instance, that when we did a beach clean-up, we separated the trash and garbage to identify how much plastic or glass or metal or other debris we found.   The most discouraging part was that the majority of the debris we collected had not floated ashore from passing ships.   Based on bottles and labels of products, most of the litter we found was the result of local activity reflecting environmental neglect and disrespect.”

Littering still hurts Zhyir, but now she is more likely to speak up when she sees someone toss something from a car window, even if the offender is much older or bigger.  

Field Studies 2017 on the beach“It is bad for the ocean and it kills things in the sea. It kills turtles. When I joined Save The Bays (YEA), I learned a lot more about our environment and I learned that there are 80 species of mangroves.   I learned so much and now I want to stand up for the environment.   Did you know that viviparis, they’re like plants that give birth to live plants, grow up in salt water and breathe oxygen from above the water? I found that cool.”

Finishing in the top three of the class, Zhyir said the course that included leadership and teamwork played out through team drumming exercises, helped reaffirm her passion to care for pets as a veterinarian. 

As graduates received their pins and began their roles as youth ambassadors, the schools they came from were also rewarded. Save The Bays provided financial support for all six schools whose students participated in the YEA program including Sister Mary Patricia Russell Junior High School, Eight Mile Rock High School, Sunland Baptist Academy, Bishop Michael Eldon School, Jack Hayward Junior High School and Mary Star of the Sea.

The YEA program is part of Save The Bays education mandate. The organization has also led the demand for a strong Freedom of Information Act, transparency in government, an end to unregulated development and more. Its strong legal arm has experienced courtroom victories leading to greater sensitivity to environmental impact. More than 20,000 have liked STB Facebook page and its petition to the Prime Minister of The Bahamas calling for a comprehensive environmental protection act among other changes has nearly 7,000 signatures.

Press Release: Save the Bays

 

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#24youthembassadorspinned

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TCI Premier and Tourism Minister lead delegation  at NABHOOD Summit

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#TurksandCaicos, October 13, 2021 – The Hon. Premier, Charles Washington Missick and Hon. Josephine Connolly Minister for tourism attended the 8th Annual International Multicultural & Heritage Tourism Summit and Trade Show. This summit was held at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay Hotel from October 8th to 10th. The theme of this year’s Summit was ‘Gaining Economic Powers Through Multicultural Tourism’. The summit was held by the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers (NABHOOD)

Both the Hon. Premier and Minister for tourism were key panelist at the summit. The Premier sat with interviewer Vincent Vanderpool Wallace, former Minister of Tourism & Aviation of the Bahamas on a one on one interview entitled A conversation on The Turks and Caicos Islands. This discussion was extremely well received and allowed for the Premier to discuss factors attributing to the success of the Tourism industry in the islands and his vision for the sector.

Hon. Connolly joined a high caliber panel with three other industry experts on Saturday morning. Their discussion centered around Diversity in Tourism and the impact to the Destination. The Minister expanded on where Turks and Caicos’ industry was heading post pandemic, how it performed over the past months and insight into the future of Tourism in the Turks and Caicos Islands including the setting up of a Regulatory Authority and a Destination Management Organization.

Among others participating from the Turks and Caicos Islands were students and a chaperone from the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College Hospitality Program. The students had the opportunity to network with other US and Caribbean students at the summit.

It is clear that the growth of the Tourism sector in the TCI and the fact that we continue to perform well despite the challenges of COVID 19, is of interest to many. Also of note is the vision articulated by the Premier as he noted; ‘it is imperative that we provide opportunities within the Tourism sector for the growth of investment and local ownership. Turks and Caicos Islanders must benefit directly from the growth of this sector’. The Premier noted that much of his efforts will be to promote investment and ownership by Turks and Caicos Islanders as much as possible.

The Hon. Minister of Tourism stated her pride in representing the country and sector at this summit; ‘This is the first opportunity I have had to present our island on a panel for some time. This year despite COVID 19, we saw arrival numbers that even exceeded pre-COVID 19 during the summer months. I can say that our protocols, our partnerships, our pre-screening program and our COVID 19 marketing strategy all contributed to this success.’

 

 

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Mother asks for Psych Test of man arrested for Damaging Columbus Statue

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#TheBahamas, October 13, 2021 – The Bahamas now knows it was Shavandaze Smith, a 37 year old Nassau man, believed to be mentally challenged that was arrested by the police for damaging Government property and other offences, after he allegedly used a sledge-hammer to destroy the statue of Christopher Columbus at the Government House on Duke Street.

Smith, at the time of his arrest which was on Saturday October 9, was reported to have been found to be in possession of a bulletproof vest. Social media accounts of the incident shows him shouting and the statue of the Italian explorer being broken off with, what appeared to have been physically exhausting blows to the likeness of the so called “Founder of the New World”.

The incident has also reignited debates around the issue of whether or not leaders of the Colonial period should continue to have major standing in Caribbean societies. Several persons have posted on social media that they are in support of the man’s alleged action.

One social media posted “As a Bahamian this sickens and embarrasses me. Columbus was responsible for many terrible things, for which he should be held in contempt, but he is also a part of our history, and those of us who wish to pull ourselves out of the primordial sludge of ignorance understand that. Hate and stupidity. Although I’m sure the haters will be writing letters to the editor calling this idiot a “hero”. It’s a New Day!

While another said to one user who condemned the alleged action, “That D- education of yours has obviously left you without an unbiased account of the history of Christopher Columbus that is grounded in fact as opposed to fiction. And all of that internet browsing you do is unfortunately no substitute for your apparent lack of a good education in your more formative years.”

According to reports from the police, sometime around 1:20 p.m., officers from the Operations Unit were dispatched to Government House. On the officers’ arrival they met an adult male in the act of causing damage to the statue of Christopher Columbus, with the use of a sledgehammer.

It adds, that the male was also found in possession of a bullet proof vest, for which he could not give a satisfactory account, and “suspect was arrest and taken into custody for Damage to Government Property and Unlawful Possession. Investigations into this matter continues,” the police said.

Mr. Smith has since appeared in court, and was charged with causing $2,000 worth of damage to the monument.  Shavandaze Smith’s mother, who was in the court at the time her son appeared ready to enter a plea to the charges of damage and trespassing, interrupted and requested a psychiatric evaluation of her son.

 

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New Bahamas Gov’t vows to cut VAT, increase wages & pensions

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#TheBahamas, October 13, 2021 – In The Bahamas Speech from the Throne, there were key pledges made and plans outlined by the newly elected government.  Among those announcements receiving the loudest applause were the decrease in VAT, the increase in pensions from the NIB and the increase – gradually – in minimum wage.  The PLP Government, led by attorney Brave Davis of Cat Island and businessman, Chester Cooper of Exuma are moving the country toward a livable wage.

“The government will increase the pension for Senior Citizens; increase the benefits for persons with disabilities and ensure that the provisions of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities) Act are fully implemented and enforced.  It will introduce legislation for the protection of consumers and increase the minimum wage phasing in a livable wage.”

The New Day campaign was hinged on a drop in the VAT tax, which had been raised under the previous FNM Administration.

“Also a priority — despite the weak economic outlook, the government will amend the VAT Act to lower the rate of VAT across the board to 10%,” relayed H.E. Cornelius Smith, Governor General of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

The Governor General delivered the Speech from the Throne, which is the Government’s transformative plan for the new parliamentary and fresh governance season.

For the Bahamians and audience which filled the convention center hall at Baha Mar, anything higher that the current $5.25 cents per hour or $42 per day and the $297 per month for pensions was welcomed.

Social plans include a second chance for minor offenders and amplifying the power of Urban Renewal.

“In addition there will be re-introduction of the RISE programme “which provided substantial benefits to many families”; relief to mortgage and rent payers to prevent an increase in and reduce homelessness; legislation to provide for the establishment of an Urban Renewal Authority to improve the quality of life of residents throughout The Bahamas; creation of a national ‘Second-Chance’ jobs programme that allows those who have served prison time to enter the job market; and the expungement of records of those young people convicted of minor offences related to the use of marijuana, so that they may more easily re-join the formal, productive economy.  “

A Bahamas Invest agency will be formed and airports in Exuma, Grand Bahama and North Eleuthera top the list of refurbishment with potable water also listed as critical to development.

“…transformation of approval processes and launch of BahamasInvest to retain competiveness and mobilise local and international investors to grow the economy; a return of Tourism to pre-COVID levels by harnessing existing markets; development of an investment portfolio for the Family Islands to promote an investor-friendly environment with a focus on an investment portfolio for specialised industries; infrastructural upgrades throughout all of the Islands of The Bahamas in an effort to create investment portfolios; expansion of the provision of potable water and implementation of a national strategy for the management of water as a natural resource; introduction of a new and progressive Building Code to increase resilience in the face of Climate Change; and advancement of the airports in Exuma, Grand Bahama, and North Eleuthera and development of all major airports across The Bahamas through Public Private Partnerships.”

The Bahamas parliament opened with a new government administration on Wednesday October 6.

 

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