Basseterre, St. Kitts — The federation was represented by Caricom Youth Ambassadors, Miss Sonia Boddie and Mr. Klieon John and President of the Nevis Youth Council Mr. Dwane Hendrickson at the Caribbean Region Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting in Antigua from April 28th-30th. The meeting was held under the theme, “Youth Participation at The Heart of National and Sustainable Development”.
The youth delegates participated in a Youth Forum on the 28th which preceded their two day involvement in the Youth Ministers meeting and discussed critical issues concerning youth in the region, and made recommendations for youth development in the post 2015 Millennium Development Agenda.
The outcome of the Youth Forum was a Youth Declaration which was collectively crafted by all youth delegates and presented to Youth Ministers and senior officials. The declaration was a call to action for Youth Ministers and their teams to principally, facilitate the increase of youth participation in national development through the enhancement and establishment of national youth councils, the strengthening and implementation of youth policies, the creation of more opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship, the professionalization of youth work, the creation of more programmes for youth in peacebuilding and most importantly, the allocation of more resources in their annual budgets to aid in youth work.
The delegates hailed their participation as a great experience. According to Boddie, “Our participation was the start of great things to come for the region, as our youth ministers not only “talked the talk” about having young people involved in decision making processes, but “walked the walk” by having us integrally involved in their discussions, thereby promoting a more inclusive culture in youth development and demonstrating that we the youth, are indeed the heart of national and sustainable development.”
John shared that, “Young people represent the vast majority of Caribbean populations, so what we need to focus on now as youth, is building a stronger relationship with our officials, not just in youth ministries but in all sectors, because we are affected by policy decisions in every area.” Young people are not the future of this world. We are the now.”
Youth delegate Hendrickson, remarked, “Coming out of these meetings, the onus is on us as local youth leaders to advocate and lobby for the the tabling of a national youth policy in Parliament and its subsequent implementation, as well as the formation of a national youth council on St.Kitts, as these are key pillars to youth development. With improved networking through the Caribbean Regional Youth Council (CRYC) and the Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC), we can access a lot of support to aid in our local youth development initiatives.”
The delegates wish to express their gratitude to the Minister of Youth Empowerment, the Hon. Shawn Richards for extending and invitation to them and to local officials for facilitating their participation at this important forum, and look forward to working closer with officials, for the improvement of youth participation in the federation.
The youth delegates were a part of a national delegation which also included, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Youth, the Hon. Shawn Richards, Junior Minister with responsibilities for Youth in the Nevis Island Administration, Hon. Hazel Brandy –Williams, Director of Youth Empowerment on St.Kitts, Mr. Geoffrey Hanley and Youth Coordinator on Nevis, Miss Zahnela Claxton.