Happy International Youth Day to the youth of St. Lucia and the World.
Our youth continue to make impressive strides in all areas of life. They are employed at all points along the labour market spectrum as farmers, teachers, entrepreneurs, bus drivers and doctors to highlight a few areas.
Through their participation in traditional and contemporary cultural activities such as jounen kweyol and carnival; they help to define and preserve our identity and heritage.
As parents they help guide and nurture the next generation of productive and responsible citizens. Our youth are without a doubt a key ingredient in our quest to attain a decent state of welfare and development for humanity.
“Youth Civic Engagement” is the theme for this year’s International Youth Day. This theme is not only timely and relevant to this year’s celebration, but should remain a goal that we consistently pursue given its intrinsic merits.
Also, the many developmental challenges that we face as a nation, necessitate youth civic engagement as part of the solution.
Youth civic engagement is the participation of young people in the designing and implementing of actions that are aimed at addressing issues of public concerns in schools, communities and the country.
It encompasses getting the youth involved in the political process and the issues that affect them.
Volunteering in youth and community based groups is a medium through which our youth can practice civic engagement. Serving in such organizations has and continues to yield solutions to the myriad of issues affecting our communities.
Indigenous community initiated efforts are a very sustainable and effective way of improving communities, since they have greater community ownership and support.
Moreover, the country’s economic constraints provide impetus for an increase in self-help initiatives at the community level. Volunteering equips the youth with leadership skills, qualities and experiences.
Also they learn many of the values and attitudes that are needed to unify and develop our society.
We do not have to do everything for money. Our communities belong to us. We have a responsibility to nurture and protect their continued growth and development.
Thus, I urge the youth to join or create youth, school and community groups.
Advocating for meaningful and positive changes at all levels of society is another way through which young people can practice civic responsibility.
Our advocacy should include the needs of vulnerable and oppressed groups of young people such as the differently abled, juvenile delinquents, unemployed youth, and youth from poor families. Programmes and policy changes should be the outcomes of youth advocacy.
The closure of resource and service gaps are indicative of such changes. Youth advocacy should be supported by evidence and research, and targeted at the relevant persons or organizations.
In addition, it must be a sustained effort which is guided by the needed resources and a well thought out of plan. Objectivity and integrity should be key principles invested in youth advocacy efforts.
Young people it is your responsibility to solve some of the issue that affect your livelihoods. If no one is willing to make the changes, then the onus lies on you.
Empower yourselves through volunteerism and other means so that you become sensible advocates.
Happy International Youth Day!!!