(SKNIS): The Honourable Shawn Richards, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister with responsibility for Youth Empowerment, strongly supports the recently established Department of Youth Empowerment’s Volunteer Corps and hailed the initiative as a vital part of volunteerism, as it is extremely important for persons, particularly young people to volunteer.
The initiative targets persons between the ages of 16 and 35 years and is designed to facilitate the registrants’ access to opportunities that allows them to assume an integral role in community and national development.
Minister Richards outlined several important benefits to young people emanating from volunteerism.
“It helps to give them work experience that can be valuable in life whether for a paid job or in building capacity to engage in other assignments. It helps to connect them to other young persons and other persons within our community from whom they are able to learn about themselves, their culture, about others and perhaps become more tolerant as a people,” said the minister.
“Taking part in voluntary activities also helps them to focus on something different outside of academics. This can also help to reduce stress being associated with their normal lifestyle, and it provides a core of additional workers to assist in the overall development of the nation,” the youth empowerment minister added.
The deputy prime minister said volunteerism will positively impact growth in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“Volunteerism will contribute to the development of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis in that it helps to save the nation or businesses from training persons who can gain such experience through volunteerism; it hopefully will help to instill discipline and national pride within our citizens, which will subsequently lead to a nation of less crime and more productive citizens.
Most of the volunteers are covered under the umbrella of the Supporting Advancement of Further Education (SAFE) initiative, which is a government-sponsored grant programme for students attending the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC) and Advanced Vocational Education Centre (AVEC) who demonstrate the need for financial support. Part of the arrangement is for the students to perform four hours of community service every month.