Archive | December, 2013

Save The Bays Supports YMCA Learn to Swim SOS Program

Students of public and private schools in Grand Bahama learn to swim thanks to a grant from Save the Bays, the fast growing environmental movement, donated to the YMCA Learn to Swim SOS program.

Students of public and private schools in Grand Bahama learn to swim thanks to a grant from Save the Bays, the fast growing environmental movement, donated to the YMCA Learn to Swim SOS program.

Declaring it was proud to help impart lifesaving skills to children growing up on an island surrounded by water, the fast-growing environmental movement Save The Bays today presented a substantial grant to the YMCA SOS Learn to Swim program in Grand Bahama.

The contribution will pave the way for thousands of children to take an in-the-water course that could save lives.

Some 13,000 pre-school and primary school students have already benefitted from the SOS (Swim for Ocean Survival) course, according to Grand Bahama YMCA Executive Director Karon Johnson, and this contribution will enable even more.

“We can’t thank Save the Bays enough for seeing the importance of this program,” said Johnson. “The course is designed to teach kids to survive, first and foremost, in an underwater situation. As they get older we work to introduce them to opportunities provided by competitive swimming and thirdly, we want to them to have the skills to enjoy our marine environment so they don’t have a fear of the sea.”

Overcoming fear and appreciating the beauty of the underwater world, said Save The Bays education officer and a director of the YMCA Joseph Darville, is one of the reasons Save The Bays selected the YMCA SOS program as its newest partner.

STB YMCA SOS

“It is with tremendous joy and satisfaction that I, on behalf of Save The Bays, present this grant to the Grand Bahama YMCA,” said Darville. “As Executive Program Vice-Chairman of the YMCA, I know firsthand the outstanding and unparalleled work this organization has done over the past 20 years in teaching thousands of our school children on Grand Bahama to swim. Additionally, over the past two years, the Anglican schools in Nassau have come on board and the program benefits their students as well. This is the only training course of its kind in The Bahamas.”

The SOS program runs twice a year, September through October and April through June, and caters to preschools and primary schools in Grand Bahama, private and public. Students are bused to the YMCA from school for hour long sessions.

The program was created to address the fact that despite that fact that The Bahamas is surrounded by water, many local children are unable to swim, partly because of a traditional fear of water-related accidents and partly because of the cost of swimming lessons.

“Thanks to companies, donors and organizations like Save The Bays we have been able to offer the program free of charge to the children of Grand Bahama,” said Johnson. Costs are also contained by part of the program falling within the Physical Education curriculum in schools.

“This is the only training course of its kind in The Bahamas, and we are extremely proud to be the body responsible for imparting lifesaving skills to multitudes of our children who live in an archipelagic nation,” says Darville. “This grant is indeed in line with the goal of the Save the Bays organization as it strives to conserve and preserve the beauty of these islands, terrestrial and marine and thus enable all children now and in the future to enjoy these islands both on land and in the sea.”

Since its launch in April, Save The Bays has gained more than 5,000 signatures on a petition calling for an environmental protection act, managed an awareness campaign that has opened the eyes of thousands to the delicate nature of the environment and formed partnerships with more than a dozen organisations with environmental interests and agendas.

Save the Bays, EARTHCARE Join Hands to Introduce Grand Bahama Principals To Environmental Studies Program

Together for a Principal-ed  Cause – Grand Bahama Principal Association members gather for a presentation by environmentalists Joseph Darville, seated, and Gail Woon. Darville, of Save The Bays, and Woon, of EARTHCARE, explained a Saturday program allowing students to participate in classroom and field trips to discover impact on the environment from a variety of forces and sources.

Together for a Principal-ed Cause – Grand Bahama Principal Association members gather for a presentation by environmentalists Joseph Darville, seated, and Gail Woon. Darville, of Save The Bays, and Woon, of EARTHCARE, explained a Saturday program allowing students to participate in classroom and field trips to discover impact on the environment from a variety of forces and sources.

Select students in Grand Bahama will have an extra school day when they return to class in January — and no one is complaining.

The students from public and private schools will participate in a 4-month hands-on program designed to teach the impact on the environment resulting from habitat loss, pollution, unregulated development, invasive species, climate change and more.

A combination of classroom and field trips and studies every other Saturday and open to students in grades 7-9, the program is a joint effort between Save The Bays and EARTHCARE. Representatives from both environmental organisations recently had a chance to explain the program to the Grand Bahama Principals Association.

“Save The Bays and EARTHCARE are looking forward to working with the schools on Grand Bahama to share this important information with local students who will become the stewards of our environment for the future generations to come,” said Joseph Darville, a retired principal who serves as education officer for Save The Bays, the fast-growing environmental movement that has garnered more than 5,000 signatures on a petition calling for an environmental protection act. In the eight months since its launch, Save The Bays has raised environmental awareness throughout The Bahamas, partly through its legal actions and in part by forming partnerships with long-standing environmental associations and groups like EARTHCARE, formed as an NGO in 1988 with a focus providing environmental education for students and teachers at the primary, secondary and tertiary level. Founder Gail Woon, a marine scientist and educator, said the program designed for Grand Bahama students will rely on the Youth Environmental Ambassadors between 20 and 35 years old who have been trained to teach. Classes will include an hour of information followed by a field trip that could take participants into the wetlands to study the growth and critical role of mangroves or out into the ocean to observe ocean acidification.

“Our goal for the 2013/2014 school year is to provide environmental education around issues such as habitat loss, invasive species, coastal management, pollution, unsustainable fishing methods, and various aspects of biology, physics and chemistry that are seen in the Bahamian natural environment,” said Woon.

Grand Bahama Principals Association President Ivan Butler extended the invitation, paving the way for Darville and Woon to reach out to the principals to get their schools involved. Students will be tested before they start and after they complete the program. More information is available on www.savethebays.bs or by e-mailing earthcare.bahamas@yahoo.com

EIGHT SCIENTISTS SIGN ON AS BIMINI BLUE COALITION, SAVE THE BAYS BIMINI ADVISORS

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On the heels of a key ruling by the Supreme Court, the Bimini Blue Coalition has enlisted serious scientific muscle to strengthen its claims of environmental mismanagement on the tiny island and provide what it considers “a better plan for Bimini.”

The non-profit group, a partner of the rapidly growing environmental movement Save the Bays, is bringing on board top minds and respected academicians with intimate knowledge of Bimini’s fragile ecosystem.

According to the Coalition, each of the scientists is volunteering and together, they are willing to advise on sustainable alternatives and potential impacts from the current plans for the North Bimini Ferry Terminal project, led by foreign developer Genting Group. Meantime, Genting is being photographed, videotaped and monitored by the Coalition as the Malaysian-based company continues to plow forward full steam ahead with a 1,000-foot pier and 4.5 acre island to accommodate cruise ships from nearby Florida.

A total of eight scientists – each one with a Ph.D. in marine or marine-related science — have joined forces with Bimini Blue Coalition, including Dr. Kristine Stump, Dr. Craig O’Connell, Dr. Demian Chapman, Dr. Eric Stroud, Dr. Bryan Franks, Dr. R. Dean Grubbs, and others.

Dr. Stump, a lead researcher at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, literally wrote the book on large-scale development in Bimini and its impact on the environment when she submitted her thesis after the initial development that changed Bimini’s eco-system, Bimini Bay Resort, was created. That development has since been taken over by Genting.

Dr. Stump’s thesis dealt directly with the destructive impact of Bimini Bay Resort on the island’s inshore marine ecosystems. Now, she fears the environmental damage will be even greater.

“On the other side of the narrow spit of land that separates the lagoon from the ocean, Bimini’s world famous coral reefs are threatened by the same resort’s highly destructive construction plans,” she said today. “As the only such habitat on the western edge of the Great Bahama Bank, Bimini’s coral reefs are not only home to several critically endangered species of coral, but they are also potentially important to the overall health of other reefs in the Bahamas.”

In the past, she noted how up to half of the lagoon’s mangrove shores have suffered from deforestation. The result, Stump explained, has been “significant declines” in several fish species, nursery habitats, and decreases in the growth and survival of juvenile lemon sharks.

Stump also echoed the concerns of a recent Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), noting that these natural resources are essentially the “foundation” of the island’s tourism industry.

“It is incredibly important to preserve these fragile natural resources, as they are what bring visitors to the island in the first place,” she added.

The long-awaited EIA, released last month, ignited further controversy regarding the rising mega resort. Critics have blasted the government for allowing construction to begin in the first place before the release of the document, which subsequently revealed major concerns for the environment and the suitability of such a large project for the island.

Resorts World Bimini has insisted that it is sensitive to the environment and its development will bolster the tiny island’s economy.

The controversy once again surfaced this week when the attorneys representing the Bimini Blue Coalition won leave to apply for a judicial review of the ferry terminal project. The organization also expects to hear today on whether it can apply for further injunctions, halting all construction until it is determined if the developer followed protocols.

Lawyers have made a “discovery” request for all permits, approvals, leases and licenses associated with the development.

A co-founder of Bimini Blue Coalition said all of the scientific advisors have intimate knowledge of Bimini and have conducted years of research in Bimini and elsewhere in The Bahamas.

The eight advisors are also expected to lend their knowledge and expertise to the organisation’s high-profile affiliate, Save the Bays which announced last week it had surpassed 5,000 signatures on its petition urging passage of a Freedom of Information Act. Save The Bays has argued repeatedly that the public never had the opportunity to review plans for a pier or cruise ship terminal on the fragile island or the destruction of wetlands to expand the airport prior to government’s granting approval to developers to proceed. A Freedom of Information Act would allow the public access to public records and information. The Bahamas is one of the last few countries in the world not to have such legislation, according to the organisation whose petition is on its website,www.savethebays.bs.

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15 Top Stars Come Together for Mega Concert December 28 to Save the Environment

KB & Friends – Fifteen of the country’s hottest performers will lend their voices and talent to raising awareness and funds for the environment in a concert sponsored by Save The Bays and set for December 28 at Arawak Cay. Among the musicians l to r, Kirkland ‘KB’ Bodie, Christian Massive and Colyn McDonald. (Photo by BVS)

KB & Friends – Fifteen of the country’s hottest performers will lend their voices and talent to raising awareness and funds for the environment in a concert sponsored by Save The Bays and set for December 28 at Arawak Cay. Among the musicians l to r, Kirkland ‘KB’ Bodie, Christian Massive and Colyn McDonald. (Photo by BVS)

Fifteen of the biggest names in Bahamian music will be lending their voices to a growing movement to preserve and protect the Bahamas environment when they take the stage for a mega-concert December 28 at Arawak Cay.

Billed as The Bahamas Best Mega Concert and Family Festival, the full day of activities topped by a 15-star performer musical bonanza is sponsored by Save The Bays to raise funds and awareness for environmental community partners. It kicks off at noon with a six-hour family fest packed with activities from clowns and bouncing castle to environmental booths and face painting. The evening concert starting at 8 pm under the big white tent will feature Kirkland ‘KB’ Bodie and a string of musical performers ranging from the sultry sounds of Veronica Bishop to the high-energy pulsating song-and-dance style of Funky D.

News of the concert and the family event was unveiled at a press conference today at the concert site.
Organized by concert promoter and cultural icon Michael Pintard, the full day event will benefit Nassau-based organizations and initiatives supported by Save The Bays including The Bahamas National Trust, Conchservation, The Nature Conservancy and the petition drive aimed at encouraging passage of environmental protection legislation and a Freedom of Information Act.

“When we first approached these artists, we knew that this is a particularly busy time of year so we would not have been surprised if there had been some resistance,” said Pintard. “But every single performer was excited to be part of a concert with such a powerful message – that this is our land and our waters and if we love this land and love these waters, it is up to each of us to do our part to make sure they are preserved for future generations to come. They are lending their talent to a cause led by the man who is the best-selling record artist in Bahamian history, KB, and we believe this concert will go down in history as a game-changer, bringing great music to a great movement, Save The Bays.”

KB is a director of Save The Bays, the non-profit organization formed earlier this year to lend strength and support to various environmental groups and offer a cohesive plan to protect the fragile reefs and waters of The Bahamas.
“I’ve always been associated with environment causes,” said KB. “So when they asked me to write original music to bring the Save The Bays’ message to the airwaves, it was a great opportunity.”

KB has since written several songs including ‘They Sellin’ and ‘Save The Bays’ and as he has made the radio rounds in recent weeks, his musical and passionate message has struck a chord with the public. The concert, he says, will help build “even more momentum for this important movement.”

The holiday concert line-up includes D-Mac, The Singing Bishop, Geno D, Christian Massive, Bazie, Funky D, Anita, M-Deez, The Falcons, Papa Smurf, Veronica Bishop, Wilfred Solomon, Lady Sho, Colyn McDonald and KB. Hosts are Special K and Natural Empress.

Family fun day tickets are $5 and available at the entrance to the area where there will be bouncing castles, clowns, treats, music and environmental education booths. Tickets for the concert range from $30 for general admission to sky boxes, complete with food, beverage and personal service. Ticket outlets include Family Pharmacy, Original Swiss Sweet Shop, DPD Enterprises, Oasis Outdoor Furniture and Phillips Sailmakers, Seventeen Shop, Signature Styles and Endless Shoeware House.

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