In the second week of October, two Abaco students were contacted by the Administrator for South Abaco, Mrs. Harris-Smith to represent Abaco as Youth Parliamentarians.
From the central and south district it was Cierra Carroll, a senior at Agape Christian School; and from the north district was Berthony McDermott, a freshman at College of the Bahamas (COB). After completing an online application, they learned of their acceptance.
This would be the beginning of a very busy, yet enlightening experience.
It began early on Wednesday morning, October 20, 2015, as they caught the first flight into Nassau where they proceeded right to the conference. At the conference they heard from many different speakers including Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Perry Christie, and others from Youth Sports and Culture.
The theme of the speeches was the involvement of today’s youth in Vision 2040, a program with the objective of engaging as many of our young people in the betterment of our country as possible by the year of 2040.
After a very full day of listening to the various speakers, they then went into a training session about 8:00 p.m., at which they were briefed on the expectations of conduct in Parliament, their speech content, and the requirements for attire.
On Thursday morning, October 21, 2015, at 9:00 they were honoured with a visit by Dame Marguerite Pindling, the Governor General of the Bahamas. Using the example of her husband, Sir Lynden O. Pindling, and his involvement in politics from a very young age, she encouraged the Youth Parliamentarians to consider what role they could play even now, ending with some words of wisdom before leaving for her next engagement.
At 10:00 a.m. they then visited the Parliament House for some practice of the proper procedures and conduct when Parliament is in session. Upon their return to the hotel, they spent the rest of the day preparing and practicing their speeches that would be delivered the following day in Parliament.
Friday finally arrived – the Big Day and The culmination of all their hard work and efforts. At 9:00 a.m. the Parliament proceedings began.
In the first session the discussion was of the national development plan. It was during this session that both Cierra and Berthony delivered their speeches. The afternoon session was on the topic of poverty. Some of the other Youth Parliamentarians were chosen to deliver speeches on this topic. At the end of the afternoon session, each of the participants was awarded a certificate in a ceremony that was followed by a parade in Rawson Square.
Afterwards they returned to the hotel for the rest of the afternoon and home again on Saturday.
Though it was a hectic weekend, the Youth Parliamentarians were grateful for the opportunity to receive such an honour and to gain some real-life experience on the proceedings in Parliament.