August 10, 2012
Jamal Browne to represent SVG in UNDP Youth-In project

The world will on Sunday – International Youth Day – celebrate the passion and energy of young people .{{more}}

Since 2000, when the first International Youth Day was celebrated, it has been a day all about and for young people. It’s about focusing on the issues they are concerned with, such as fighting corruption and assisting in making just societies.

International Youth Day is also for highlighting the challenges which still face so many young people, such as a lack of the educational opportunities so badly needed to get ahead, but most of all, it is about celebrating the enthusiasm and accomplishments of our young people.

The theme for this year’s celebration is: “Building a Better World: Partnering with Youth” and this is precisely the spirit in which the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for the Caribbean, created Project Youth Innovation, also known as Youth-In.

Its genesis was in a 2010 CARICOM Youth Commission report: ‘Eye on the Future: Investing in YOUTH NOW for Tomorrow’s Community’ which showed the challenges of Caribbean youth and the costs to Caribbean society if there was no investment in youth. It was out of this realization that UNDP’s Youth-In project was born.

Just as young people do, the Youth-In project dreams big. It is bold, ambitious and aims to change the world for the better.

Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, UNDP Resident Representative said:

“We are living in such incredibly momentous times. We just have to take a look at the Arab Spring to see young people at the heart of major, historic movements for social change. Not only that but they are effecting this change in ways that are distinctively young – like using Twitter to spread their message. Young people can change the world and they can do it their way and this is the purpose of the Youth-In project – to empower young people to be active agents of change.”

The Youth-In project is multifaceted, giving young people in the region several platforms from which they can change the world in their own way. The project has five main ‘corners’ – arts and culture, volunteerism, the Youth-In Think Tank, entrepreneurship and participation. Each of these corners has several different projects under it that are intended to engage young Caribbean people in a variety of ways.

Coming out of the arts and culture corner already this summer, was the ‘Spice It Up’ Song contest, which has been held in Grenada and Barbados. The competition attracted aspiring young singers and songwriters from the two countries who composed songs promoting disaster awareness and preparedness. The aim of allowing young people to “talk through the arts”, is to demonstrate alternative means of disseminating information in a way that can easily be digested.

The Youth Think Tank (YTT) has also been in action this summer season, with three of the 14 specially selected members of the Think Tank journeying to Kingston, Jamaica, to participate in the Caribbean Regional Youth Leaders’ Summit and discuss a youth vision for regional governance.

The YTT members at the conference also visited certain communities and distributed tokens from respective countries and participated in a panel discussion: “Working Inclusively and Strategically for Successful Regional Youth Governance and Participation”.

Twenty-six year old Jamal Browne, represents St Vincent and the Grenadines on the YTT.

The entrepreneurship corner has also gotten a boost with the launch of a Business Lab for young entrepreneurs in St Kitts and Nevis, part of a collaborative project with the Young Americas Business Trust. The first lab was focused on rural tourism and took place June 4 to 8.

The second Youth-In/YABT Business Lab will start in Antigua and Barbuda tomorrow (August 13), focusing this time on Green Enterprises and will run through until August 17th.

While the Youth-In project has already been active across the region for several months, the spotlight will now be on the Youth-In web portal which will go live today.

The website is a resource for young Caribbean people which has all of the information and news on the initiatives being pursued under the various corners and also highlights the accomplishments of positive Caribbean youth.

UNDP’s Youth-In continues to answer the call of the Caribbean Commission on Youth Development to: invest in the youth, understand them, recognize their contributions, build partnerships and promote participation among them.