I WAS THINKING about what the children of St Vincent and the Grenadines are doing to occupy their time and to live healthy, happy lives, now that the schools are closed for the long vacation.
A generation or two ago, the secondary school students would head to the beach, go to a river or even seek some adventure by hiking mountain trails. The occasional cook-out was included on the agenda. Church youth groups organized activities, which revolved around camps or day trips to the Grenadines.
Overseas travel was not on the cards for most, unless they were representing the country in some sporting endeavour. Otherwise, you stayed at home and helped to take care of domestic chores or go “bob-a-jobbing”. “Raiding” the neighbour’s fruit trees was not a desirable action but an option for some nevertheless.
Who could recall making it to “matinee” to see a good “western, secret agent or a Chiney” movie at Lyric or at Russell’s cinema?
So, what are the children doing today? More than likely, they are mainly engaged in the use of their tablets, playing video games or taking in TikTok and Instagram. The serenity of the day is occasionally punctuated by rapidly spreading stories of a tragedy involving a major accident or an unfortunate murder.
The physical quality of life for our nation’s youth has improved since independence in 1979. There are better homes throughout the country. Electricity is now a standard expectation and requirement. So too is potable water, televisions, all types of media communication, better public transport, greater variety of food on offer both at public restaurants and for home preparation. The downside arises from the burgeoning prices of goods and the harder job opportunities for their parents.
More children have the opportunity to play sports – there are more hard courts for netball and basketball. There are more soccer leagues and cricket competitions abound. Our athletes have recently received the benefit of a track at Diamond to hone their talents. They can improve the quality of their participation in regional and international events as well as enhance their chances to get scholarships to study and do track and field in the USA.
Culturally, there are channels of expression for those who have good singing voices – primarily, but not only, at carnival time. There is a plethora of recording studios, some not larger than the size of a small bedroom. Youth choral groups are not many, but vocal training for groups and individuals is an initiative that could be done across the country.
We are not yet where we should be
St Vincent and the Grenadines has a lot to offer to our young people. Yet, it is my considered opinion that we are 20 or 30 years behind where we should be today. Indicators such as per capita income and economic growth may speak to bread and butter issues but they do not tell us nearly enough about the physical and emotional quality of our young people’s lives.
I wish that there were at least two museums that our youth could visit this vacation period – one featuring our natural history, and another that displays the works of Dinks Johnson, Peling Pollard, Peter Providence, Calvert Jones and so many more of our talented sons and daughters.
We claim to be a proud nation state with a proud heritage, yet we don’t even have a permanent forum (neither physical nor digital) to celebrate who we are and what we do. I expect it will come but, in the meantime, we are denying yet another generation of an important channel for enriching their lives.
Now that the Carnival is over
Carnival is over and the young people got the opportunity to release both their creativity and their energy after the two-year hiatus, brought on by Covid. I wish however, that there could be recurring opportunities for children to gather at public squares around the country to hear the sweet sounds of steel, and to listen to recitals of one type or another. It would be so nice if these activities are actually organized by the young people themselves, but supported by the Ministry of Culture and the National Lotteries Authority.
They could be so organized that the events could rotate with the communities of say, a broader geographic area – so that, the children of Rose Hall, Troumaca, Spring Village, Chateaubelair and Rose Bank could journey to Petit Bordel for such a concert and likewise could be done across the country.
of the science-minded students have the chance to join the excellent STEM holiday programme , initiated by Petrus Gumbs. We need more of this. It would be nice to have additional youth programmes focusing, for instance, on Marine Biology, History or Having Fun with Mathematics. Some schools do arrange summer activities for their students, but this does not appear to be the norm.
Let us play a role in enriching the lives of our youth. This is one time of the year when we could do so.