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|Summertime and Briland Youth|
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|Posted by:||Jul 1st 2003, 04:44:22 pm|
|Fig Tree News Team||The Eneas Files
The Summer Youth
The summer is upon us. Thousands of youngsters will be unleashed from the daily chore of school attendance. The national school enrolment including government and independent schools ranges between 65-70,000 boys and girls and for about three months (June, July and August), at least 60-65,000 of these children will essentially be unoccupied, many unsupervised or without a structural programme for most of these three months.
Creating a structural environment for these youngsters is a challenge, not only for the government of the Bahamas, but also for civil society including the church, social organizations like lodges with community outreach programmes, the private sector in the provision of employment for youth despite the sluggish economy and other non-governmental organizations from Abaco to Inagua.
The Bahamas has become an urban society with 85% of Bahamians living in New Providence and Grand Bahama. This means that at least 85% of these youth are urban youth and generally urban youth are very different from Family Island or rural youth in terms of what is in vogue, particularly their socialization process.
As a boy growing up in Nassau, during the summer months many of my friends with Family Island roots were shipped off to the various islands to grand parents for most of the summer. Today tastes have changed, affluent Bahamians send their children to summer camps be they swimming, baseball or basketball camps in the United States, Canada or even as far away as Europe.
One of the staples of summer life over the past three decades is the family vacation to Florida. A favourite destination is Orlando where thousands of Bahamian youngsters are taken by their parents to enjoy the amusements which Disneyland offer.
Summer for many parents is a very expensive period as the cost of living escalates to a new level and the Bahamian boy and girl expectations have been broadened as they "expect" more and parents are "pressured" to provide more.
There is also a "dark" side to summer vacation. Grand Bahama is now in crisis, seeking clues to the three missing youngsters. Phil Stubbs, the Bahamian balladeer, has the question in song "Where did they go? Where can they be?" Stubbs cautions parents to listen carefully and he reminds parents to know where their children are.
For some parents, the summer is an extremely stressful period as many parents do not have
the means to provide any type of summer programme for their children and depend totally on the state or NGOs.
The Youth Department of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Affairs under the leadership of Hon. Neville Wisdom, has devised a structured programme in the various communities for boys and girls. How many parents will take advantage of these programmes which are essentially social safety nets. Since it is voluntary, some kids will loose out simply because parents have not made the effort to avail themselves to the programmes leaving thousands of kids to roam around communities aimlessly.
For NGOs like the Church, organizing summer programmes is expensive, as it requires additional manpower. Many of these programmes are extensions of Sunday School Many churches feel obligated to provide some type of programme for its youth but these programmes run for one or two weeks and are generally only half days, about four hours (9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.).
As a society this whole approach to summer needs serious reconsideration. One view is to re-organize the school year from three terms to four terms and make the breaks between terms more equitable and for a specific period. Adjustments would also have to be made for teachers to attend professional programmes where they can continue to upgrade their skills and knowledge. The school should be more reflective of the realities of urban life in today's Bahamas, particularly with 40% of the workforce being in the service industry either as hotel workers or some other service activity.
The summer youth is a different being. For three months of the year, the regimentation of the previous nine months goes out of the window. For some boys and girls, summer is a bad time while for others it is months of great expectations and excitement.
For some parents it is a worrisome three months because it brings on a responsibility which for nine months of the year was provided by the school system. During the summer, parents now have this added concern. Many find it extremely difficult to cope with children at home and perform productively in the workplace. The mental distraction is severe for some parents, particularly single mothers with teenage daughters.
For parents, communities and the state, dealing with the pressures of the summer youth is not easy as it affects all of us either directly or indirectly.
The Bahamas Journal, www.jonescommunicationsltd.com
If you'd like to help coordinate a July/August afternoon summer camp for youth 12-20 at the Briland library, please e-mail coconutH2O@batelnet.bs at your earliest convenience. Adult supervisors are needed for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursdat and Friday afternoon two-hour shifts.
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