Final public consultation on the Federal Youth Policy underway in St. Kitts and Nevis

(SKNIS): A number of stakeholders, including youth, gathered at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort on Tuesday, March 28, for the final public consultation on the Federal Youth Policy, which was identified as a top priority, especially as it relates to young persons.

The Honourable Shawn Richards, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, described the consultation as very momentous, noting that it is not a personal achievement for him per say, “but it is an achievement on behalf of all of the young people in St. Kitts and Nevis”.

“This Federal Youth Policy I deem to be extremely important in guiding youth work here in St. Kitts and Nevis, not just for the current generation of young persons but for future generations of young persons,” said the minister of youth, adding that it is quite fitting to have such an auspicious gathering of individuals assembled to review the final working document of the policy. “We have attempted to be very inclusive as we understand the power and the importance of diversity of opinions. We invite you to be open and frank in your discussions as it is our desire to capture the voice, the will and the intent of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis within the words of the document.”

Minister Richards encouraged all in attendance to approach the process as one in which the empowerment of young people is the highest priority on the agenda. He said that the challenges of youth is inherent in the old saying “children should be seen, not heard”, adding that children ought not to be silenced as they play a very integral role in society, hence the reason why it is important to create a Federal Youth Policy.

“There are distinctive gaps between what we wish for our youth and the mechanisms which we put in place to enable those wishes. That is why the Policy is so important. For just as public buildings cannot be constructed without a ramp for the disabled, public and developmental policy should not be constructed without the consideration for youth issues,” he said. “In short, this policy intends to aid young people to traverse the waters from a dependent child to an independent adult by both legislation, as well as by targeting youth empowerment programmes. Hence, the importance of the policy is that it empowers young people to maximize their potential for the good of themselves and to the benefit of the country.”

Deputy PM Richards stated that the Federal Youth Policy is intended to be an actionable device, as it addresses the issues of economics, security and identity empowerment, education, health, nation building and excellence.

“All these areas can be facilities for change to a young person as we empower them to face challenges and transitions of life. Hence, the strategic work plans, as well as the programmes within the Department of Youth Empowerment are all essential tools within the development agenda of the country. The development agenda with respect to youth must change,” said Minister Richards.

He added that the government intends to do what is just and right and it is just and right for a caring government to invest in the country’s greatest resource – its people. “The paradigm of the Team Unity Government is people first and this begins with taking care of our children and our youth,” he said.

Minister Richards thanked all who played an integral part in ensuring that the policy came to fruition. Such persons include but are not limited to the present and past Directors of the Department of Youth Empowerment, namely Pierre Liburd and Geoffrey Hanley, Secretary General of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Commission for UNESCO, Antonio Maynard, Youth expert assigned through the Commonwealth, Dwynette Eversley, and the Federal Youth Policy Steering Committee.

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