For BROADCAST USE: A group of Nova Scotian teenagers are on the adventure of a lifetime — sailing from Mystic, Connecticut to Halifax, Nova Scotia on the Freedom Schooner Amistad, a re-creation of the nineteenth century schooner, La Amistad. Three fifteen-year-old African Nova Scotians (Shacawn Clayton, Ryan States and Jeremy Tolliver) were choosen to fly to Connecticut, board the Freedom Schooner Amistad and sail back to Halifax. The youth are part of the Freedom Schooner Amistad’s educational sailing program which promotes improved relationships between races and cultures. During the sail, students participate in twenty-four-hour watches, ship routines and educational activities. The youth will return to Halifax on Sunday, (July 30th). -30- A group of Nova Scotian teenagers are on the adventure of a lifetime — sailing from Mystic, Connecticut, to Halifax, Nova Scotia on the Freedom Schooner Amistad, a re-creation of the nineteenth century schooner, La Amistad. Three 15 year-old African Nova Scotians, Shacawn Clayton, Ryan States and Jeremy Tolliver, were choosen to fly to Connecticut, to board the Freedom Schooner Amistad and sail back to Halifax. They joined the Sankofa Sail program, an educational initiative inspired by the Amistad incident. In 1839, fifty-three Africans were illegally kidnaped aboard La Amistad. They revolted, took over the ship, and after a historical U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the survivors won their freedom. “This is an amazing opportunity for our young people,” said Wayn Hamilton, CEO of the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs. “The schooner is a floating history lesson. It keeps the legacy of the Amistad incident alive, which at its heart is a story about diverse groups working together through adversity to accomplish a common goal”. The program’s mandate is to create and encourage dialogue on issues of human rights and diversity by using the Amistad’s history as a teaching point for lessons of freedom, justice perseverance, cooperation and leadership. The education programs focus on the youth and promote improved relationships between races and cultures. “The Amistad is a gift and responsibility. Looking at what happened in 1839 makes us look into ourselves,” said Eliza Garfield, captain of the Freedom Schooner Amistad. “We don’t just remember the past, we inspire young people to overcome difficult personal circumstances. It’s a character building experience.” During the sail, students participate in 24-hour watches, ship routines and educational activities. After the first few days of sailing, students are expected to take on responsibility for the ship until they are ready, just as the original Africans, to sail the ship overnight. The three youths will return to Halifax on Sunday, July 30. They communicate daily with their friends and family using the internet. “This is my second day on the ship. It seems to be going by really quickly, and I am really starting to get use to it. Although some of the tasks are hard to understand, and do. For the most part everything they asked I am willing and able to do,” said Shacawn Clayton, in an excerpt of his online journal. “It’s a great learning experience for the boys. Shacawn was ready to go. He read all about the Amistad and watched the film, he was ready to sail,” said Pamela Clayton, Shacawn Clayton’s aunt. “I spoke to him and read his journal on the website he seems to be enjoying the adventure.” To follow the journey of Shacawn, Jeremy and Ryan see the Sankofa Sail website at http://sankofasail.org/ . Marcus James, a youth coordinator at the Halifax North Memorial Library on Gottingen Street in Halifax, accompanied the boys to Connecticut and he sees the trip as a great opportunity for the teenagers to put African Nova Scotian history into context. “There is a strong link between the Amistad and African Nova Scotians, this is part of their heritage. They will definitely have stories to tell when the come back,” said Mr. James. “I told the boys, it’s a big trip for them and I know it’s hard for them being away from home for the first time but if they can succeed at this they can succeed at anything.” The Freedom Schooner Amistad will visit Halifax from Sunday, July 30, to Monday, Aug. 7. Once the schooner docks in Halifax, others will be able to take part in a series of daily youth discussion forums on racial diversity and leadership. There will also be a limited number of spots available for youth to tour the ship and go on sailing excursions. When Amistad America, Inc., the owners of the Freedom Schooner Amistad, decided to sail to Halifax Habour, they were determined to connect with the African Nova Scotian community. The schooner’s first stop is the site of the former African Nova Scotian community of Africville, now Seaview Park. The schooner will arrive and anchor off Seaview Park in the afternoon and be welcomed by former residents of Africville and the African Nova Scotian community. The park is located off Barrington Street in Halifax, on the shores of the Bedford Basin. The Amistad will dock at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, located at 1675 Lower Water St. in Halifax. For a copy of the program of events see the website at www.gov.ns.ca/ansa/specialevents.asp and click the program of events link. For information on daily tours contact 902-424-1839.