Full Disclosure
September 19, 2008
Youth Development – The role of the social worker – PT 2

For many years, social workers have been viewed by many as abstract workers, only important when parents would have given up on an unruly child; important when a youth situation would have passed crisis proportions; and anything associated with the dark side of youth. Whilst there is always a part for remedial workers, we must continue to ensure that a preventative type approach is advocated.{{more}} With the assistance of our nation’s social workers, many positive things are possible for our youth; hence this article seeks to analyze the role of the youth as an active participant working collaboratively with social workers for his or her general development.

It is without question that an active and independent non-governmental sector is an essential element of any truly democratic society. Further, participation in the democratic life of any country, region or locality is about more than voting every few years; it helps citizens to be involved in and influence decisions and actions on an ongoing basis. Therefore, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, it is crucial that young people are encouraged and supported to participate in associative life in their communities and villages, with the support of properly trained and skilled social workers.

It may be correct to say that the majority of non-governmental organizations are working with young people mainly as beneficiaries, target groups, or directly involved in the development and implementation of activities. While our youth send a clear message to the rest of our society that we want to shape our environment and society actively, the specific role of a youth organization is to use a non-formal education approach, which aims at involving us and empowering us to take an active role within the community life.

In most of the cases, the biggest challenge is to reach all categories of youth within a specific community or society, and to make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate in various social activities. It is in this regard that we must see a greater need to engage social workers at all levels of youth development. The prime objective must always be to reduce the number of marginalized groups by bringing their needs to the surface, and to build activities with maximum participation. Empowering young people to take an active role in the community enables us to be responsible citizens. The social worker who is grounded is also placed in the best position to propose many aspects of the finest way forward, and must at all times be seen as a key player in the process of designing youth activities that are aimed at strengthening the participation of young people.

Participation is about having the right, the means, the space and the opportunity, and where necessary, the support to participate in and influence decisions and engage in actions and activities, so as to contribute to building a better society.

Any policy or action designed to promote youth participation must ensure that the cultural environment is one of respect for young people, and must also take into account the diverse needs, circumstances and aspirations of our youth. Quite naturally, it must also involve some element of excitement.

Youth empowerment is what we must strive for. Simply, it is any process which allows our youth to gain the ability, authority, and possibility to make decisions and implement changes in their own lives and the lives of other people, including youth and adults. There are a variety of activities that may impact youth empowerment, including formal education, community-based training, governmental policy-making, and the development of social awareness. If the interactions which are to take place within these sectors are supported by our nation’s social workers then the quest to secure a better St. Vincent and the Grenadines will be far easier to achieve.

Without any doubt, our young people are the building blocks for the future development of our communities. We must continue to target our youth in all quarters as we push ahead to change the face of our nation for today’s generation and generations to come.

Saboto Caesar is a Lawyer and Unity Labour Party Senator.