Full Disclosure
September 5, 2008
Rekindling youth engagement in SVG

The youth are the future of our nation. If we are to secure a successful future, we must begin to positively engage ourselves at all levels of the society. Former United States President, Bill Clinton, in his book “Giving – How each of us can change the world”, reflected, that “While we do not all have the same amount of money, we do have access to the same twenty four hours in everyday.” Hence, there is a great sense of equality as it relates to our ability to give of our time.{{more}} Our youth must see the giving of our time to national development through strategic engagements as the best way forward.

It is in this regard that an urge to become actively engaged as a young person in varying aspects of national development must be seen as being grounded in a firm sense of volunteerism. A renewed sense of volunteerism is paramount if we are to make critical changes in areas which extend beyond the current scope of the central government. We must at this point make no mistake in appreciating the importance of honouring the need to give freely of ones time, skills and ideas.

Today, our nation has in countless ways and through countless young persons and youth organisations, exhibited that we will spare no effort in ensuring that the talents of our young people are positively engaged in the process of national development. Now that the policy is right, how are we planning to ensure that we make the best of these opportunities that we are being offered? What structures can we put in place to ensure that there is a continued line of transmission of knowledge to those who would not have been able to get the good opportunity that others had? We must be our brother’s keeper!

If we are to harness the human capital readily available from our youth, there must be the appropriate mechanisms in place to ensure that relationships are forged on the basis of principles such as partnership through open communication, trustworthiness, mutual respect, reciprocity, and adult support or facilitation. We must, therefore, rise to the occasion to individually and collectively channel our energies in the right direction to advance the causes of our society.

Community participation and support are critical to the sustainability and productivity of our youth as we attempt to build the structures which support our body politic. This element increases the motivation of our youth, educators and parents, as well as the responsiveness to the group of persons that our youth would ultimately have to serve.

In making the transition to adulthood, we must rely on our intellect to take us forward. Our young people need unfailing support from each other, high quality guidance and the opportunities to gain new skills and pertinent experiences. The education revolution is doing an excellent job at preparing us academically. The results this year at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels all indicators of success. What are our youth now willing to do for ourselves beyond the attainment of certification? This question must not be understood in the context of being an indictment, but should act as a timely encouragement.

As we continue in our quest to create a difference in the lives of our youth, particularly those in relatively marginalised communities, let us foremost recognize the power which lies within us, and enforce the critical skills which will make that needed difference possible. Some of these skills are crucial and outline the foundation of the conceptual framework within which minds are nurtured.

As we push ahead, let us continue to implement more youth engagement programs and approaches, as this will be a practical contributor to the development of youth by fostering active citizenship. If we instil a sense of social responsibility where it is absent, and add some invigoration where some is already present, which will follow youth into maturity, then we can change the face of this island for the better. Many programs will achieve these aims by providing opportunities for capacity building and leadership, and by encouraging our youth to develop a sense of self-awareness that is connected to a broader social awareness.

In considering the specific problems before us, we sometimes may be discouraged, and we may hardly think there is any cause for optimism, or for hope of early solutions. The solutions are not always difficult to find. however, I charge us that it is only if we keep ourselves informed can we ever comment intelligently on our nation’s decisions. We must not fail to be critical of ourselves or of the negativity around us. Our positive contribution is valued as a prized commodity, since it is only by your comments that errors made can be corrected, and progress and growth stimulated.

In conclusion, I repeat the mantra, that the patriotic young Vincentian, who intends to become actively involved in charting the destiny of our people and the building of a modern Vincentian society, sub-region and region, with a chance to change the world for the better, must feel both chastened and challenged by the verdict outlining the critical need for an exceptional cadre of multitalented youth, who would be able to effectively, and efficiently plan, structure and govern, both their lives and the life of this our blessed nation.