by Bria King
A mandate was given by the youth of St Vincent and the Grenadines at the SPARK Youth Summit for the formation of a National Youth Council.
The one-day summit was held on August 17 and saw a number of speakers and panelists engaging with participants, in an effort to engage youth and tackle prevalent issues.
One participant, during the wrap-up portion of the event, asked for persons to come together and form a youth council “for the youths like myself who are not so privileged to get a back up for us to get help”.
Franz George, the Caribbean and Americas representative at the Commonwealth Youth Council and a speaker at the summit, acknowledged that there was a gap that needed to be filled in that regard.
“The irony about this situation is that some of us have been meeting with the ministry of youth over the past three to four weeks and we said to them hey, young people need something and they have agreed with us on a couple of projects, one of the main ones being re-establishing a National Youth Council,” he said.
However, George encouraged youth to be proactive in the event that they do not see it coming to fruition. He said that the onus is on them to apply pressure to the ministry.
He further said that the question should not be why there is no youth council, but how do youths start their own.
If we would see more persons stepping up, doing projects, putting their initiatives out there and networking, partnering and that sort of thing, it really would help to spark the change that we want to see. So your enthusiasm, that’s what we need,” George said. “You’re leaving here, don’t leave without 10 phone numbers. Don’t leave without a plan to follow up and network with each other, because even if the plans don’t come through with the ministry of youth, but you could start your own hub for young people. You would be so surprised as to how much that wave would take off and how impactful that would be.”
The summit’s feature speaker, Nikolai Edwards also endorsed the call for the establishment of the National Youth Council.
Edwards, the interim political leader for the Progressive Party in Trinidad and Tobago, spoke on the topic “Swimming against the tide: change created by youth, for youth”.
Other speakers at the summit were Roselle Solomon, a social worker, who spoke on the topic “Minding your Health”; lawyer, Moureeze Franklyn presented on the topic “Community Problems: A shared responsibility”; and Tamira Browne spoke on “Mission 2030”, which provided a breakdown of the sustainable development goals.
George, the Caribbean representative on the Commonwealth Youth Council spoke on the topic “Seizing opportunities through quality education”.
There was also a panel discussion during the afternoon portion of the one-day summit on the topic, “Investing in your passion pays the best interest”.
Panelists were Karen Veira, the band leader for Oxygen Mas; Niasha Mofford, the director of Flotus Ultra; Tevin Burnett, the creative director of brand, Been Blocked; Denicia Gaymes, a chef and Lindon James, founder of the Be Fit Movement.