By Amelia Putnam
Man-O-War Cay is a unique island, with a strong sense of community and family values. It is a place where kids can run free and play with no fear. The peace and serenity in Man-O-War (MOW) are rare. Locals work towards preserving their history and trades. Swimming used to be a popular sport, and Noah Albury helped bring it back. He was the first kid from Man-O-War Cay in many years to compete nationally with swimming on the Abaco Swim Club team.
The Abaco Swim Club has an incredible program with practices 5 days a week and learn to swim classes for ages 3 and up. With the help of Albury’s Ferry Service, several swim moms, and Ms. Liz, the swim taxi, the Man-O-War children have been able to attend all Abaco Swim Club practices in Marsh Harbour and Hope Town for the last two years.
In order to subsidize the cost of becoming a competitive swimmer and living on MOW, fundraising started on the island to cover the cost of all ferry tickets and flights to swim meets. Albury’s Ferry Service has provided discounted swimmer ferry tickets and over the last two years has given $10,000 towards youth fitness on Man-O-War through the discounted ferry tickets.
Since 2013, 12 kids from MOW have travelled to compete in swim meets in Freeport and Nassau and seven kids from the island were on the 2014 Abaco Swim Club National Team (Camille Albury, Lily Albury, Katie Sands, Noah Albury, Erica Roberts, Reagan Sands, and Jeremiah Weatherford). This year, five kids from Man-O-War qualified for nationals with the Abaco Swim Club and will be travelling to Nassau for the RBC Bahamas National Swimming Championships June 25th, 2015 (Katie Sands, Noah Albury, Erica Roberts, Victoria Albury, and Silas Albury).
Watching the children excel and accomplish goals through sports, lead to the creation of MOWY Fitness, an environmentally friendly non-profit organization on Man-O-War Cay that is committed to youth development through sports.
MOWY Fitness provides opportunities for kids and adults to participate in sports and fitness on the island. The new group hosted its first fundraiser with the 2015 Man-O-War Luau, a Hawaiian party the weekend of Palm Sunday at the Man-O-War Marina. Since the big event, MOWY Fitness has been busy making Man-O-War even better and coming up with more fun ideas for MOW and Abaco.
Keep your eyes and ears open for details on the Great Abaco Trash-A-Thon : September 19th, 2015.
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday MOWY Fitness meets at Church Corner (next to MOW Hardware), for a morning run at 6:30am. Many locals have accomplished running/walking goals by being a part of the morning meetup. If you are on Man-O-War, you can join them. It is a fun way to see the island and to make new friends.
During the spring, kids on Man-O-War can attend swim practice in the harbour Monday-Thursday at 4:45pm for ages six and up at the public dock. For the last three years, these springtime practices have been run on the island to help teach kids how to swim and to prepare them for the annual school swim meet in Hope Town.
This year at the 13th Annual Perry Cooke Swim Meet, the Man-O-War Primary School beat the Hope Town School for the first time in over 10 years, and Man-O-War had a total of 23 kids at 6 different schools who participated, with the youngest being 5-year-old Alexander Albury!
Currently, MOWY Fitness is restoring the local baseball field, which was known as the most beautiful field in Abaco. Many games and practices happened on Man-O-War and MOWY Fitness intends to bring the field back to life.
Flag Football has become a popular sport for the youth and adults in Abaco. There are games hosted in MHH, GT, HT, and MOW. MOWY Fitness supports the baseball field, football teams (Sharks and Makos), and wants to see the new field bring more people to the island.
Watching games is a fun family activity, and Man-O-War will have an updated field to practice and play this upcoming flag football season. The new Man-O-War Ball Field will give the kids a better place to learn about sports, fitness, sportsmanship, and teamwork.
A big salute to those who have not only volunteered and supported the kids on Man-O-War, but also the kids all over Abaco. Good luck to the devoted swimmers competing at the 2015 RBC Bahamas National Swimming Championships.