Youth development programme  officially launched at Layou Campsite
October 2, 2012
Youth development programme officially launched at Layou Campsite

by Bria King Tue, Oct 2, 2012

Forty-four secondary school students are participating in a leadership training program which began here two weeks ago.{{more}}

The official opening ceremony of the Youth Empowered for Community Action program (YECA) took place at the Layou Campsite on September 21.

The YECA is a newly developed program that focuses on empowering youths to work together to develop solutions to the issues they face today.

Immediately following the September 21 opening ceremony, a weekend overnight retreat was held. The retreat served to propel the program further by placing participants into groups in order to begin planning service projects and come up with creative solutions to the issues faced in the community today.

According to Katie SanFilippo, a Peace Corps volunteer and one of the program coordinators, there are three parts to the program, two of which have either been completed or have begun. These three parts consist of training community college students in leadership, hosting weekend summits and implementing the service projects.

SanFilippo drew attention to the fact that among the 44 students, there are participants from Bequia and Union Island. Additionally, there are 14 youth leaders who were trained in August to head the community projects.

During the opening ceremony, efforts were made to ensure that two hearing impaired students were fully involved, as a Peace Corps volunteer used sign language to communicate with them.

The presence of the hearing impaired students was acknowledged by Junior Bacchus, who chaired the proceedings.

During the weekend retreat, which ran from September 21 to 23, students were trained in leadership development, conflict resolution, communication and team building. There were also various talks about HIV/AIDS and environmental as well as socio-economic issues.

Bacchus, an organizer and member of the YECA program, advised the students not to underestimate the impact the weekend retreat could have on their lives. He asked that they be positive and come to the sessions with open minds and dedicate themselves to the cause. He also recognized the nine Peace Corps volunteers who participated in the weekend as counsellors.

Ministry of Education representative Kathleen Jeffers had a similar message as she urged participants to take the program seriously, as the issues that will be dealt with are not just common to youths here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“The Ministry is always pleased to be associated with activities of this nature, especially our youth development,” Jeffers said.

Certificates were presented to the 14 youth leaders for taking part and completing the Leadership Development workshop that was held in August. These presentations were made by Ashley John, a mentor for the summit, and Cuthbert James, Director of the Peace Corps in St Vincent and the Grenadines. The program hopes to have its second summit from October 5 to 7 and will begin the implementation of the service projects later this month.