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Bahamas Still Lighting it Up Blue for Autism Awareness

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By Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

 

 

#TheBahamas, April 13, 2023 – The Centre of Disease Control now places autism at 1 in every 36 children down from 1 in every 56, according to Dwayne Gibson, the Chairman of R.E.A.C.H, who spoke at the 11th annual commemoration of World Autism Day “Light it up Blue” at Rawson Square on April 1, themed “It’s ok to be a little different;” an event to keep this challenge in the spotlight.

While the US is citing a downward trend of children diagnosed to be on the autism spectrum, for The Bahamas the report is starkly different.

Last year R.E.A.C.H organized and launched an online public survey to ascertain the number of families affected by autism in The Bahamas, unfortunately, the participation in the survey was not satisfactory. Still, Gibson went on to say that they were able to gather information from their office that revealed and increase in the number of children are being diagnosed with mild, moderate, or severe autism.

Gibson, on April 2, rolled out recent initiatives of R.E.A.C.H  including a free respite care service which is offered every Saturday and Sunday, supervised by Special Education teachers from the Ministry of Education.  This allows parents of autistic children to take a break on weekends which is a big help, he said.

Also, R.E.A.C.H is in talks with the Ministry of Education to connect with a well-trained foreign speech therapists to meet later this month with special needs teachers. This is to keep them up to date with the latest and most effective practices and protocols, in order to yield better results with the children.

They are also in collaboration to fly the therapist to Eleuthera to rendezvous and conduct screenings and assessments with special needs kids from Spanish Wells and Harbour Island who would not have the opportunity to access professional help.

Gibson made another important point, noting that the Government’s “continued” annual grant to the non-profit organization, through the Ministry of Social Services, has allowed them to hire a resident Speech Pathologist which has taken some of the weight off of parents’ shoulders to find and pay for private speech therapy services. He expressed that they are able to provide quality speech therapy services to those who are most in need.

While the chairman aptly laid out the progresses and needs, the Light it Up Blue ceremony also made room for the talents of children and teens on the Autism Spectrum to display their talents in singing, music and speaking.  A period of the event was also dedicated to the honoring of a number of special needs children as 2023 R.E.A.C.H  Star Students for their continued development and excellence at their schools.

Needless to say, the children were visibly happy and excited to be have been recognised to an audience which included both the Prime Minister, Philip Davis and the Minister of Education, Glenys Hanna-Martin.

The Prime Minster gave the official countdown to the lighting up of Rawson Square.  The country’s democratic center, located on Bay Street in Nassau, continues to be illuminated by blue lights this month, which best seen during the evening hours.

Bahamas News

Bahamas Celebrates 51st Independence – ‘United In Love & Service’

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By LINDSAY THOMPSON
Bahamas Information Services



NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Commonwealth of The Bahamas celebrated 51 years as an independent nation on July 10, 2024.

A Calendar of Events planned and managed by the National Independence Secretariat focused on the theme: ‘One People United In Love & Service,’ an excerpt from the National Pledge.

An Ecumenical Service and Cultural Show was held July 9, 2024 at historic Clifford Park, where the Flag Raising segment stirred emotions from spectators – many of whom were at that same spot when the birth of the nation happened in 1973.

The 51st Independence Anniversary celebrations kicked off with a number of leadup events: beginning with ‘National Flag Day’ on June 28, during which Bahamians throughout the country donned the national colours of aquamarine, gold and black and held brief ceremonies marked by singing of the National Anthem, reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, and solemn Flag Raising.

The traditional Independence ‘Beat Retreat’ was held in Rawson Square, downtown Nassau, June 30, where a joint uniformed branch band wowed dignitaries and scores of spectators with their skillful drills and upbeat music.  This year, young people were added to the mix and drew thunderous applause as they sang the songs of local artists.

On July 1, a National Time Capsule Packing Day was coordinated, which involved all Family Islands, and New Providence.  Residents gathered historic items unique to their specific communities and placed them in time capsules.  All capsules will be unsealed in 2049 during the country’s Diamond Jubilee independence celebrations.

The week leading up to Independence was filled with activities aimed at bringing people together right where they live — their communities.  It called for Bahamians to focus on heritage, culture, love and commonalities as opposed to differences.

The main event on Tuesday, July 9, at Clifford Park drew many who donned fashionable clothing in the national colours, waved pompoms, blew whistles, and held flashing lights as they experienced from 7:30 pm to 12:00 midnight aspects of the spiritual and cultural Bahamas.

The Ecumenical Service sermon was delivered by Bahamas Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander – who called into focus the theme of unity, love and service.  The gospel singing by Bishop Denczil Rolle & Friends added to the worship mood throughout the park and the vicinity of Fort Charlotte.

Following on, the cultural segment showcased folklore dance, performances by artists who evoked crowd excitement, Junkanoo, skits in which young actors dreamed of their future, and interviews with Bahamians who have beaten the odds.

Minutes before midnight, Her Excellency Dame Cynthia Pratt, Governor General, inspected the Honour Guard; members of the clergy gathered around the National Flag as it was being hoisted and offered prayers for various segments of the community; and as the Flag reached the top – the National Anthem was played followed by a burst of fireworks bringing in July 10, 2024 – the 51st Independence Anniversary of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

In those early hours, starting at 1:00 a.m. the celebration continued with ‘The People’s Rush’ Junkanoo extravaganza.

On the afternoon of Independence Day, a ‘Family Fun Day’ was held at Clifford Park, where all manner of activities, games, foods, drinks and entertainment were available for families to enjoy.

That evening, a State Reception at Government House, Mt. Fitzwilliam, was hosted by Governor General Dame Cynthia Pratt in celebration of Bahamas Independence.

PHOTO CAPTION
Photos show the 51st. Anniversary of Bahamas Independence Ecumenical Service and Cultural Show celebrations at Clifford Park, July 9-10, 2024.  (BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna)

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Bahamas Development Bank Hosts Financial Talk with Freeport Primary School  

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Freeport, Grand Bahama, 15 July 2024- The Bahamas Development Bank (BDB) recently hosted a group of enthusiastic sixth graders for a session on financial literacy. Over 40 Freeport Primary School students delved into the importance of being goal oriented and the value of savings.

Through engaging activities and discussions, the sixth graders learned about the importance of planning for the future and how disciplined saving can help them achieve their dreams. Beyond this, BDB team members encouraged the students to be their best as they get ready to leave primary school.

Bahamas Development Bank Credit Operations Manager, Brent Deveaux, expressed enthusiasm about the event, stating, “It is crucial for our young people to understand the value of money management early on. By teaching them the principles of saving and goal setting, we are not only empowering them to make sound financial decisions in the future but also contributing to the overall economic well-being of our community. At the Bahamas Development Bank, we are proud to invest in the financial literacy of our youth as part of our commitment to national development.”

Following the interactive session, BDB presented a donation to Freeport Primary School to assist graduating sixth graders with their transition to junior high school.

This Freeport Primary School initiative was part of a broader effort by BDB to celebrate its 50th anniversary with events that engage and benefit the community. The bank believes that financial education is a key component of building a prosperous and financially responsible society. Bahamas Development Bank team members Brent Deveaux, Rachea Mortimer, Rhavanya Carey, and Octovia Green planned and carried out the activity.

 

Photo Caption: The Bahamas Development Bank recently hosted an interactive session designed to provide Freeport Primary School students with practical knowledge about setting financial goals and the benefits of saving money. Standing in center is Freeport Primary School Principal, Gia Walker.

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Prime Minister Davis: New US Embassy Compound represents ‘our commitment to mutually beneficial ties between our nations’

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Turks and Caicos Leaders attend official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in Nassau, Bahamas

 

NASSAU, The Bahamas — Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said, on June 28, 2024, that it was a “great honour” to join in celebration of the 248th anniversary of the United States’ Independence, and festivities of the New Embassy Compound Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony.

“On behalf of the Bahamian people, we wish the people of the USA a Happy Independence,” Prime Minister Davis said, during his Official Remarks at the event, held on the grounds of the new compound. “As we join you in celebrating 248 years of a successful and thriving democracy, I also extend a warm welcome to the new Chargé d’Affaires Kimberly Furnish and thank the U.S. Embassy for hosting this event, affording us this moment to celebrate with one another.”

He added: “This evening is particularly special as we gather to cut the ribbon for this beautiful new Embassy here in Downtown Nassau. This new building represents our commitment to mutually beneficial ties between our nations. It is a symbol of our enduring friendship as neighbours, as allies in pursuit of a better world, and as collaborators building a brighter and better future together.”

Among those present were Governor General of The Bahamas Her Excellency the Most Hon. Dame Cynthia Pratt; Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands her Excellency Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam; Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands the Hon. Charles Washington Misick; Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon. Fred Mitchell; Hon. Mr. Chief Justice of The Bahamas Sir Ian Winder; Director of Intelligence and Information for North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command Brigadier General Maurizio D. Calabrese; and US Department of State Overseas Building Operations Principal Deputy Director J. Douglas Dykhouse.

Prime Minister Davis noted: “As we reflect on tonight’s theme, ‘Our Shared Future’, I am reminded of the countless ways our nations have supported each other over the years. Whether in the aftermath of our deepest tragedies or through collaborative efforts to protect our borders, the United States has always been a steadfast ally to The Bahamas.”

“When hurricanes ravaged our islands, leaving destruction and despair in their wake, the United States was there, providing vital aid, resources, and support,” he added. “I can’t help but think of the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, ‘The only way to have a friend is to be one’. The US has been a true friend to The Bahamas.”

“Moving forward, we will undoubtedly continue to maintain close ties – and not just diplomatic ties but social, cultural, and economic ties as well.”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that many Bahamians visit the US on an annual basis – multiple times per year.

“And, if you were to add up all the US citizens who visit The Bahamas each year, you’d get a number that is far greater than our population,” he said. “Our nations are truly intertwined.”

“I am genuinely excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for the US and The Bahamas,” Prime Minister Davis added. “As we deepen our friendship, we must ensure that we maintain strategic alliances on key issues to protect our interests.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that both nations faced similar issues in immigration and border control, and they also were both preparing for more extreme weather events due to worsening climate conditions. Those, he stated, were just two of the areas where they had the opportunity to work together for the common good.

“One of the most important and sacred aspects of our relationship is our shared commitment to democracy, freedom, and human rights,” Prime Minister Davis said. “These values are the bedrock of our societies, guiding our actions and shaping our futures. Together, we must continue to champion these principles, both within our borders and on the global stage.”

He added: “As we celebrate this milestone, let us also take a moment to reflect on the future we envision for our nations – a future where our collaboration leads to greater prosperity, security, and well-being for our citizens. A future where our shared values and goals continue to guide us toward a more just and equitable world.

“Together, we can achieve great things and ensure a prosperous future for both our nations.

“Thank you, and once again, Happy Independence.”

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