I have worked for four years with the six graders in the public school system in the Turks and Caicos Islands and for a little under five years with youth in the Cayman Islands and have found that though the Caymans are entered in the Olympics, neither British Overseas Territory has a high level of swim training for the underpriveledged of their countries. It is growing in the Cayman Islands but in the Turks and Caicos Islands where the economy, until the 1980s, was completely dependant upon conch and lobster (crayfish) harvesting, which means diving, there is no...no organised swimming programmes thorughout the entire archipelago.
Like sailing, which is how they got where they needed to go to get in the water or scoop up the conch, water recreation or work seem to be signs of impovershment since they were signs of wealth before, with no need to think of fthem any longer for the future. Business management, accounting, nursing, teaching and the hospitality industry seems the only alternatives for career opportunities insisted upon by parents.
The underlying problem with this way of thinking is generated by a lack of cultural heritage training, investigation and promotion. The British Government gives some funding for education and the environment but not one pence for anything with the words culture or heritage. Most sixth graders do not even know where London is. They do know where Miami is and there is a culture of shopping that is almost as strong as the culture of straightening hair or shaving it off.
Sometimes, because a place is publicised as being affluent, such as the Caymans or the Turks and Caicos, they are overlooked as potential areas of need. Sometimes the countries themselves are insulted by those wanting to assist or create programmes, trying to show they don't need outside assistance because they actually can believe their own publicity. It just looks better, sort of like having a SUV in place of an economical and practical vehicle even if your home is unfinished.
A group of us are trying in our way to assist research and educational programmes that deal with the maritime heritage of the Turks and Caicos Islands and indeed, the entire Caribbean Region. We are a loose organisation right now and just forming but there is also a need for teaching the philosophy of waterborne excellence in all areas, especially when you are surrounded by water... warm, turquoise water.
If anybody is interested in joining or starting a programme to address either of these issues, I am of service with contacts or advise.