Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 14, 2016 (SKNIS): The contributions of sponsors, partners and outstanding volunteers of the Department of Youth Empowerment were recognized at Government House on Tuesday night (December 13) at the inaugural Youth Service Reception.

The activity was organized by the department and was designed to showcase the impact the youth staff is having in influencing positive development of the nation’s youth, while thanking the private, public and civil society partners that played a critical role in the formulation and implementation of the programmes and activities.

The audience at last night’s reception got a glimpse of that impact through presentations by youth officers on their specific projects. The guests were reminded of the rationale and programme design and heard success stories. Traditional projects included the 25 Most Remarkable Teens programme, CEBO entrepreneurship project, the Easter Reading Camp, and the Annual Summer Residential Camp. New initiatives were also highlighted such as the Build Together: Father-Child Sand Sculpting Competition, Raise Your Voices: High School Choir Fest, and the Youth Island-Wide Bike Run. The presentations were supported by pictures projected on a big screen.

Keesha Penny, who teamed with the Department of Youth Empowerment in November for a youth festival, said she was overwhelmed by the department’s support, noting that it far exceeded her expectations and made the youth festival a success. She added that she was impressed with the variety and the scope of the department’s initiatives.

“Just touching one life is affecting the nation and from the programmes that were outlined and the pictures that were shown, I believe that it affected our nation, our young people, on different levels,” she said, referencing some of the family relationship building exercises as well as the skill development initiatives. “These are activities that will go with a person for the rest of their lives.”

Atnell Pemberton has volunteered regularly with the Department for about 10 years. “I love young people. I have a passion for young people,” he said. This passion means that he is deeply disturbed when he sees youth not leading productive lives or worse yet, engaging in antisocial activities.

“If I can make my contribution and help to curb that sort of behavior, I am always willing to give my time and efforts to facilitate that,” Mr. Pemberton said.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Youth, Honourable Shawn Richards, saluted the sponsors and partners and said that while this year’s activities underscores government’s commitment to meaningful youth empowerment, he was mindful of the significant role that the private sector and civil society play.

“Rest assured that that while the successes of this year were considerable, it pales in comparison to the vision and plans afoot for 2017 and beyond,” he stated. “I want to take this occasion to acknowledge and salute you as the community of practice who willingly plays its vital role in raising our children and youth.”

The Youth Service Reception was hosted by His Excellency the Governor General, Sir S.W. Tapley Seaton. The evening was chaired by Special Adviser to the Minister of Youth, Vernon Connor.