Camp Inclusion/Camp Climate Action among summer activities planned for Flamingo Gardens Centre rebranding

The content originally appeared on: ZNS BAHAMAS News

The Community Affairs Division within the Ministry of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting will undertake three projects this summer — (1) a Community Meet & Greet; (2) Camp Inclusion 2024, and (3) Camp Climate Action — as part of the Ministry’s rebranding initiative for the Flamingo Gardens Family Life Community Centre.

Entitled “All Tings Bahamian,” the Meet-and-Greet will kick-off the activities Saturday (July 13) at Flamingo Gardens Park, Bahamas Boulevard, 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m., and has a two-fold purpose: to re-brand the Community Affairs Division through the introduction of enhanced programmes and activities that target all aspects of the family: the young, the old, the able bodied and persons with disabilities — in collaboration with private/public and non-government organizations; and to re-engage neighbouring communities in order to get their buy-in to support and participate in the Centre’s activities.

“Strong families and by extension, strong communities, are the cornerstone of civil society,” Minister of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting, the Hon. Myles K. LaRoda told Parliament Monday.  “We truly believe that in order to strengthen families and communities, we must seek to include and empower the marginalized, and show love for our country.

“In this vein, the Meet-and-Greet will have an independence flair, using the colours of the Bahamian Flag. There will be live entertainment, a kiddie’s corner, vendor displays, Bahamian cuisine, games, fun activities and giveaways throughout the day.  Residents and businesses will be invited to bring their goods to sell.  Health screenings will also be conducted at the event.  We are also encouraging residents to participate in our ‘Best Dressed Yard’ competition.  Winners will receive prizes for the cleanest yard and best Bahamian display.”

Minister LaRoda said in keeping with the Global Family Day 2024 theme “Embracing Diversity, Strengthening Families,” and the United Nations International Day of Families 2024 theme “Families and Climate Change,” the Community Affairs Division will also host two summer camps during the months of July and August – targeting those two critical areas.

“[As] an extension of my Ministry’s continued efforts to take the lead in ensuring inclusion for all — particularly the community of persons with disabilities — in every aspect of society, ‘Camp Inclusion’ 2024, the first of which was held during the Summer of 2022, will take place from Monday (July15) to Friday (July 26).  One hundred persons with different levels and types of disabilities, along with student advocates, will participate,” Mr. LaRoda said.

“Its focus is to ensure that participating youth learn about disability, advocacy, inclusion, accessibility, and the adaptive sport of Beep Ball (a form of baseball that can be played by persons who are blind or visually impaired, using a ball that beeps and bases that buzz, helping to make baseball more inclusive.  The sport uses audio cues and special equipment to alert and guide players to act).

“Camp Inclusion will allow the student advocates to delve into activities that give in-depth experiences about living with mobility and intellectual disabilities that will involve spending a portion of the day blindfolded in order to get first-hand experience on how persons who are blind navigate their daily routines. This will include identifying objects, preparing simplemeals, and navigating unfamiliar surroundings.  An introduction to Braille segment has been scheduled.  After learning basic Sign Language, students will spend a portion of the day communicating with non-verbal cues and sign language.”

The camp, which will culminate with the Beep Ball Bonanza Tournament (Saturday, July 27), is a collaborative effort of Community Affairs Division, Disability Affairs Division, the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), and the Bahamas Coalition of Advocates for Disability Awareness and Service (BaCADAS).

In order to address the impacts of Climate Change on Small-Island Developing States such as The Bahamas at the community/youth level, the Division will host Camp Climate Action August 6-16 at Flamingo Gardens Family Life Centre.  Camp Climate Action is the first of its kind under the auspices of the Ministry.

One hundred students from the Family Life Centre’s Afterschool Programme and neighbouring communities will participate. The goals of the camp are to increase awareness of climate change in vulnerable Bahamian youth, strengthen awareness about the value of and threats to coral reefs and associated ecosystems, and to identify and implement effective strategies to combat climate change.

The camp will culminate with a Climate Action Exhibition on Saturday (August 17); it is a collaborative effort of the Community Affairs Division, the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF), The Bahamas Department of Meteorology, Department of Environmental Planning and Protection, Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources, Disaster Risk Management Authority, Climate Change Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister, and other climate-focused organizations.

“The impacts of Climate Change, are and will continue to be, some of the greatest threats to humankind, resulting in an increase in the frequency and ferocity of disasters such as storms and hurricanes, in addition to its negative impacts on properties and lives resulting from droughts and heatwaves.  This is also a threat to our food security,” Minister LaRoda said. 

“The extent to which these increases will occur, will depend upon how well we are able to mitigate the amount of Climate Change that occurs. While Small-Island Developing States such as The Bahamas contribute very little, if any, to Climate Change, rising sea levels, increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes and storms, in addition to coral reef degradation are all negatively impacting our way of life and economy.  Climate adaptation and mitigation, therefore, is crucial to addressing these threats, particularly in The Bahamas, and what better group of persons to begin with than our youth, who are our future.”