The beaming smiles of thirty students from the Grande Riviere Primary were visible from their tented classroom on the Rodney Bay Marina lawn, all the way to the end of the megayacht dock, on Friday June 27 as they received their certificates for participating in IGY Rodney Bay Marina’s second schools outreach event.
Along with two teachers, Anne Marie Unamba and Mineva M’Giala, the invited guests from grades K through 6 were hosted by General Manager Simon Bryan, Sales and Marketing Manager Alana Mathurin and an IGY team from across the network, who introduced the marina and its operations to the primary school children, then split them into teams and led a number of fun nautical activities and competitions.
For Simon Bryan, however, the fun had a serious purpose and since assuming the reins at Rodney Bay Marina in 2013, he has spearheaded community outreach and youth development as a priority for Rodney Bay Marina.
The marina sponsors several children from the Gros Islet community in the St Lucia Sailing Association’s Youth Sailing Program, through which 2014 Laser 4.7 National Champion Chrisankey Flood has honed his craft for the past four years. Rodney Bay Marina has also supported the development of teenagers and young adults through day charter company Jus’ Sail’s Sail Training Program for the past two summers, an initiative which has introduced young St Lucians to sailing and the marine industry as a career.
With the schools outreach program, the marina team is looking to capture the attention and imagination of local children, some of whom have never been on a boat or visited a marina before, and to show them the potential for fun and sport, but ultimately also for a possible livelihood and career, given that the Caribbean yachting sector is a growing one in need of a technically qualified and experienced workforce. Rodney Bay Marina believes that more St Lucians can find a successful future in maritime pursuits, and getting kids on board at a young age is part of the plan.
It was hard to tell which was more popular, the catamaran sail around the lagoon, the treasure hunt or the VHF radio session; certainly the knot-tying lesson was a great favourite and a new skill for life.
Teacher Unumba was thrilled with the amount of knowledge the students gained from the activities: “They learnt a lot about the operations of the marina, and remember we are also trying to help them to plan for the future so I think these experiences give the children a wider idea of what’s available as a career right here in Saint Lucia. I also think more business establishments should do similar activities so students can learn about other possible careers.”
From the morning’s fun to the great lunch from the team at Bread Basket, the students of Grande Riviere were enthralled by all they experienced, and the smiles from the Rodney Bay Marina team said a lot about their enthusiasm for the program.
GM Simon Bryan, newly elected to represent the Marine and Yachting Sector on the board of the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association, was pleased with the feedback and promised to continue the program with another local school after the summer break. He also plans to bring November’s Atlantic Rally for Cruisers to life for schools in the area, by linking St Lucian students with some of the 16 children so far signed up to compete with their families in the ARC.
“There is so much potential within the marine industries and yachting for St Lucians to develop successful and lucrative careers, businesses and other opportunities, and we believe that if more young people are introduced to the possibilities they can develop that interest and maybe choose to make it their future,” said Bryan.
Judging by some of the kids’ reactions, there are now a few budding sailors at the Grande Riviere Primary School.