BREEF Hosts Extreme Hangout Bahamas, Climate Change Student Workshop

March 8th 2024 – Under the theme, “Fossil Fuel Free Bahamas: Building a Climate Resilient Future,” the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) held its first ever Extreme Hangout Bahamas event in the St. John’s College Auditorium.

Extreme Hangouts are platforms for focusing on climate change, aiming to amplify the voices of young changemakers, popularise the climate movement, and ignite environmental action. Recognizing that young people and underrepresented communities often lack opportunities to engage in formal climate negotiations, EXTREME, a purpose-driven adventure brand has dedicated itself to providing a seat at the table.

The one-day workshop brought together 10th to 12th graders from various schools in New Providence, Grand Bahama and Cat Island. Participants engaged in discussions and activities which highlighted the significance of conservation and sustainability. They explored topics such as the risks of oil drilling, coral bleaching, and the impacts of climate change on The Bahamas as a coastal nation. Over 150 participants, including 70 students selected by their schools based on their passion for the environment and sustainability attended. The event highlighted the importance of environmental sustainability and environmental education.

During his remarks at the event, Prime Minister Philip Davis explained that advocacy for small island developing states like The Bahamas is crucially important saying, “We must also lead the way by adopting a cleaner, more environmentally friendly way of life. The government recognises the important role it plays as we transition our islands to renewable forms of energy like solar.” He continued, “As young leaders, you have the power to promote conservation, to advance climate justice, and to effect change and we all have individual contributions we can make as well.”

BREEF Young Reporter for the Environment and St John’s Student, Orico Thelusmar interviews Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis

Students also had the chance to interact with local experts and professionals in the conservation field, discussing strategies to promote youth advocacy, healthy oceans, and actions to combat climate change. St. John’s Student, Orico Thelusmar, a member of the St. John’s Eco-Club and a new Young Reporter for the Environment, had an opportunity to interview the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis writes Pledge to the Ocean, “I pledge to advocate for laws to protect our oceans.”

The workshop featured diverse speakers, including Rashema Ingraham, Executive Director of Waterkeepers Bahamas; Minister of the Environment Vaughn Miller, Kishan Munroe, University of The Bahamas Chair of Communications and Creative Arts & BREEF Board Member; Steffon Evans, Assistant Director of the Organization for Responsible Governance; Ashawnté Russell, and Stephen Hunter, Bahamas Youth Climate Ambassadors 2023/2024, and Heather Brockbank, BREEF Outreach Officer. Nikita Shiel-Rolle, CEO of Cat Island Conservation Institute and Young Marine Explorers moderated the event and engaged students as presenters covered topics from “The Impact of CO2 & Fossil Fuels” to “Policy & Advocacy” participating students shared their perspectives on climate change impacts and suggested ways for the country to move toward more sustainable options for energy.

BREEF Bahamas Environmental Steward Scholar, Christopher Clarke explains anatomy of the Queen Conch with Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis

Commenting on the “United Voices for our Planet” panel discussion, Government High School student Dion Walkine said, “Listening to them, I was motivated because they are not that much older than us and they are talking about topics that are familiar to us. I feel as if I can one day see myself on that stage discussing the same climate change issues.”

Another student, Xaria Ingraham, a Waterkeepers Cadet from Grand Bahama and student from Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Academy, said, “I really liked connecting with and seeing so many other kids my age who care about the environment and want to help protect it.”

During the event students posted their “Pledges to the Ocean” on a bulletin board. C.R. Walker student Jayden Pratt wrote, “I pledge to spread the word about climate change and how it affects the ocean, to increase public awareness.” The Prime Minister pledged to “advocate for laws to protect our oceans”.

Akhepran International Academy Students pose for a photo with BREEF’s queen angelfish and Stanley the Shark

Students and teachers used the interactive sessions to learned more about BREEF’s Young Reporters for the Environment and Bahamas Environmental Stewardship Scholars programmes and explored careers in sustainable tourism. Students also participated in a coral restoration activity highlighting a critical tool for addressing threats faced by corals from warming waters, and took part in a simulated oil spill clean up. BREEF provided environmental education resources for teachers to utilize in their classrooms.

Government High School Science teacher Irwinique McKenzie said, “My students found the workshop both educational and interactive, and were particularly excited about the hands-on experiences.”

BREEF is extremely grateful for the commitment of St. John’s College and the St. John’s Eco-club, Extreme Hangout International, guest speakers, partners and volunteers who remain resolute in supporting initiatives like this one which inspire future generations of environmental stewards.

Prime Minister Philip Davis greets students from Cat Island Arthur’s Town Comprehensive School

“BREEF is pleased to collaborate with Extreme Hangout International to host this workshop bringing together students from across the archipelago who are committing to ending our dependence on fossil fuels, and helping The Bahamas take the necessary action to be recognised around the world as a climate leader” stated BREEF Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert “In The Bahamas, a healthy marine environment is essential to sustaining our lives and way of life.”

BREEF Board Member, and Extreme Hangout International Founder, Amber Nutall said, “It was nothing short of a great privilege and personal joy to attend the first Extreme Hangout Local in the Bahamas. The energy, curiosity and determination were palpable amongst the attending students and all who spoke,” thanking everyone for their contributions in making the event a success.

Students from C.I. Gibson, Lyford Cay International, Akhepran International and Bahamas Global Academy schools learn how to make a coral propagation unit 

Nutall also expressed gratitude for the Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis’ attendance, “Having the Prime Minister so engagingly participate for me drove home not only the increased awareness amongst senior officials globally as to the threats faced today by our human family but also the opportunity to together create the future of our dreams requiring not only heap fulls of hard work and collaboration but also reconnection, healing and ultimately gifting us all the opportunity of personal and planetary health,” she said.

BREEF is grateful to The Moore Foundation, Primat Foundation, Our Islands Our Future and Builders Initiative for their support of the Extreme Hangout Bahamas event.

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