As described by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, “Youth” is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence and awareness of our interdependence as members of a community. Youth is a more fluid category than a fixed age-group. It is often difficult to define this group that is traversing this dynamic and often challenging period of their life. It is however safe to say that this transition is a journey which is best undertaken with the love of family and the support and understanding of the neighbours, friends and community in which our youth live.
Fellow Citizens, it is an honour to bring greetings on the occasion of Youth Month 2016. The youth of this Nation make up more than 25% of our population and with this in mind it is understandable that the theme for this year’s celebration is, “Preparing for the future, investing in our youth.” The magnitude of our youth population brings with it the realization that the foundation of our Nation’s success rests on the shoulders of these young people. For that matter with 50.5% of the World’s 7 billion people under the age of thirty we all are charged with ensuring the investment in youth programming is at the forefront of economic and social planning.
Like most of our Caribbean Countries, the Youth within our Federation face different struggles; whether social, political or economical. Every challenge creates an opportunity for growth; therefore, we must always champion the cause for their holistic development. The Ministry of Youth is currently undertaking the mission of completing the federal Youth Policy. This document will be the foundation of a strategic plan which will direct the actions, interventions and programs of both government and civil society in serving our youth.
This year’s Youth Month is filled with many activities and celebrations. Again, we will be hosting our High School Chef Competition which will be preceded by cook-offs within each school. On November 10th there will be the hosting of the 25 Most Remarkable Teens. We will be introducing the Island wide Bike ride on the 13th November and we invite everyone to join us. Another highlight of our Youth Month will be the Youth Talent Fest where we will be honored by the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales, known to us as Prince Harry. We will also be hosting the annual Daddy Daughter Dinner and Dance and the month of activities culminates with the first ever Youth Month Gala and awards ceremony.
As we come together to commemorate, celebrate and recognize the extraordinary potential of the young people in our Federation, I encourage you to come out and support the activities during the month. I submit that no investment in our youth is too great, and none is insignificant. First Timothy Chapter4 verse 12 teaches us “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe”; therefore, let our every gesture, every smile, every second of mentorship, our coaching, our guidance or a simple hug be a magnificent investment in the life of a young person.
During this month I ask each and every citizen to pay special attention to the youth of our Nation. Let us speak with the youth and not at them; let us remember them in our prayers and supplication as we pray both with them and for them. I challenge everyone to plan activities in celebration of Youth Month. Let us in every family, every school, every sports team, every church and every community pledge to sit with the young people and plan at least one activity that you can share together. I also encourage you as you plan your own celebration post it to the Department of Youth’s Facebook page as we all “Prepare for the future by investing in our Youth”.
I thank you for this opportunity to address you my fellow citizens as I take pride in declaring Youth Month Open.