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Wynsome Ferguson, manager of the Abaco Tourist Office; James Richard, Khalea's father and principal of Forest Heights Academy; Administrator Maxine Duncombe; FHA Teacher Nadira Kawalram; Khalea Richard, 2018 Junior Minster of Tourism; Kendy Ferguson, asst. manager of the Abaco Tourist Office, Paul Knowles, principal of J.A. Pinder Primary School; and District Supt. Dominque Russell.

Junior Minister of Tourism Competition Names First Abaco Winner

Khalea Richard has made history for Abaco.

On March 21, 2018 she became Abaco’s first student to win the Junior Minister of Tourism Competition in New Providence. The topic was: “Sustainable Tourism: A Nation’s Plan After the Storm.”

Accompanied by her father, James Richard, and coach, Nadira Kawalram, Khalea exited the baggage terminal at the Leonard M. Thompson International Airport on March 22 to the congratulatory cheers and warm embraces of those from the Abaco community who came out to applaud her success.

A small Junkanoo group from Forest Heights Academy provided live entertainment.

Visibly beaming with a broad smile on her face, Khalea expressed gratitude to all of the staff in Nassau and Abaco from the Ministry of Tourism for providing her with the opportunity to participate in the competition. She also thanked her coach and father for their tireless efforts in ensuring she was well-prepared throughout the competition.

“I’m grateful for the impact I will make in my community and with the youth,” Khalea envisioned. “I look forward to representing Abaco and my school at the next competition.”

The contestants were also given a mystery question, and based on her response, Khalea aced her question which was about naming a crisis that is on her island.

Her response was the shanty towns on Abaco as she shared her concern for the youth living in those conditions, which pose health and well-being hazards for those who live there was well as fire hazards. As Junior Minister of Tourism, she would like to see the government put more regulations in place for these communities.

Khalea went on to encourage other students to believe in themselves even when they are afraid because there are people around them who have faith in them and believe in them. Even she experienced self-doubt not expecting to win the competition, she said.

Nevertheless, she exceeded her own expectations, but not the expectations of those rooting for her to win.

“They know what they are doing, and they know what they are talking about, so trust them and trust your instincts. You can do anything you set your mind to,” she encouraged.

Khalea also won the Rotary Speech Competition on Feb. 28, and she placed second in the Bahamas Junior Minister of the Environment Competition on March 21.

Yes, it’s safe to say that Khalea is on a roll.

As the 2018 Junior Minister of Tourism, Khalea received the Patrick S. Bain scholarship, an opportunity to represent The Bahamas at the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Youth Congress, $500 and a trophy. Her school, Forest Heights Academy, will also receive $500 and a floating trophy to commemorate her accomplishment.

Meantime, Abaco Tourism Manager Wynsome Ferguson was elated over Khalea’s win. She explained that she was in Green Turtle Cay when she received the wonderful news from her colleague Paula Cornish.

“I’m happy that she has received the title, and I think she can go all the way to the Caribbean competition and bring another win home,” Ferguson said.

Representing the Department of Education, District Superintendent Dominique Russell first acknowledged the strong partnership between public and private stakeholders which she credited to the leadership of former District Superintendent of Education, Dr. Lenora Black. She said that more than that, though, students like Khalea are an inspiration.

“If they see that she can do it, they can do it. I want to support her father, and I also want to support her school, so that all of our children understand the value of seeing someone who looks like them, someone who is a Bahamian, and someone who is doing well, that they can do it as well,” she reasoned.

The celebration for Khalea Richard as Junior Minister of Tourism ended with a motorcade throughout the communities of Marsh Harbour, Dundas Town and Murphy Town.

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About Canishka Alexander

Canishka Alexander

Canishka Alexander was born in New Providence, but spent most of her childhood years on Abaco. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Abilene Christian University.

Although she has accomplished many things in life, her greatest accomplishment is being a mother to her four children. She loves God, her country and people of all cultures.

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