SIMPSON BAY, ST. MAARTEN – K1 Britannia Foundation and Kidz at Sea Foundation recently celebrated the graduation of eight students in its maritime training course sponsored by Holland America Line. The course was free of charge for all participants.
The celebration was held onboard Aquamania’s Lambada as a way to give the students’ families an opportunity to participate in their new career. Present during the celebration were the students, invited family and friends, alongside training instructors, Kidz at Sea, K1 Britannia representatives and other invited guests and supporters.
The course was made possible as a result of Holland America Line reaching out to K1 Britannia Foundation in March 2018, enquiring how they could assist the island in its long-term recovery after hurricane Irma. One of the many concerns that were discussed was the lack of employment opportunities post-Irma for Sint Maarten’s youth. K1 approached Kidz at Sea, a well-known foundation promoting career opportunities for young people in the maritime sector to collaborate on the initiative. The 3-month long course gave the students the skills and internationally recognized certifications needed to find a job in the short term and a career for life.
Over the three months, participants learned about sailing and boat maintenance and obtained 7 certifications; including obtaining the small commercial vessel (CSV) boat master 1 license for sailing vessels up to 36 feet and a powerboat endorsement for up to 28 feet.
All graduates were successfully in obtaining the US Sailing Association qualifications such as basic keelboat, basic cruising, bare boat cruising and completed a coastal navigation course. In addition, they received the international certification STCW 2010 which is the minimum qualification standards for any on water maritime position; providing an entry to professional careers on Island, onboard Cruise Ships, Yachts or Merchant ships. They also obtained their VHF Radio license and a certificate for completing the basics of vessel maintenance.
“This is a very proud moment because this is the first group ever in St. Maarten that will have the boat master 1 license for sailing vessels up to 36 feet and a power boat endorsement for up to 28 feet,” Garth Steyn, founder of Kidz at sea said during the graduation ceremony, reflecting on how impressed he was by the students during the course. “The fact that the majority had never sailed before, during their final exams they all came out showing confidence and that they had developed seamanship skills. They also learned the importance of showing up on time, team work and that there is no I in team.”
Khristopher Hinds, one of the students reiterated this saying “I came into this course not knowing anything about sailboats and navigation and proper boat terminology; however, I can safely say from the day I started to now, my brain is full. Knowing that when I’m done with this program, I am guaranteed a job because of my accomplishments; this course isn’t only just to give you your license, this is THE stepping stone to a successful career. My options are very broad.”
Looking into the future, Lorraine Talmi, President of Kidz At Sea says that the outlook is very positive. “The students have been given all the tools they need to succeed in the marine industry it’s their job to use it to maximum capacity now.”
“Participating in this course helps me learn so much more than just about boats, it has taught me about discipline, responsibilities, respect and teamwork. Those things were instilled in us and expected of us which will help us far more in life than anything else” said Lamar Halley, another student of the course.
“This program has been opening doors for me that I typically wouldn’t be able to open by myself. Also, it motivates me to keep pushing because I realize that nothing is impossible” continued Khristopher Hinds.
“We are very thankful to Holland America Line for investing into these youths by making this course possible. The interest of international companies like Holland America Line in helping St. Maarten’s youth is something positive that came out of hurricane Irma. As organizations, we look forward to continuing to work together to give more youths opportunities through apprenticeship programs in the months and years to come” said Priya Thirumur, co-founder of K1 Britannia Foundation.
For more information about Kidz at Sea Foundation, K1 Britannia Foundation, and Holland America Line, visit www.facebook.com/Kidz-At-Sea-227713444470718/, www.k1britanniafoundation.org, or www.hollandamerica.com.