YOUTH MONTH 2016 ADDRESS BY THE CARICOM YOUTH AMBASSADORS

It is with great pride that we, the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors of St. Kitts and Nevis come forward once again to address the nation as we commence yet another ‘Youth Month’ celebration. Championed by the Department of Youth Empowerment, This month’s activities will be shaped around the timely theme: “Preparing for the Future: Investing in our Youth”

In order to adequately and sustainably shape the future of St. Kitts and Nevis, youth empowerment must become a priority! Youth empowerment is the process whereby young people are encouraged to take charge of their lives. This is done by addressing their situation and taking action to improve their access to resources in order to transform their consciousness, beliefs and attitudes. It is at this time that we implore you to pause and consider what you, the elder leaders of our great nation, have done to invest in such empowerment.

Do you believe that what is being done is enough? Have you significantly invested personally? If your answers to these questions are not vehemently YES then there is still work to done.

Empowered youths have not only the desire to transform society but also the skill set necessary to do so. We are able to inspire through speech as well as action, as have been demonstrated by many youth leaders throughout the years in avenues such as MADE (Making A Difference Everywhere) launched by Mr. Trevis Belle.

When a country’s youth population is empowered, their future prosperity is set as we are the ones who will grow into successful, independent adults who transform society. Is it any question that a country’s greatest asset is its populace? Then why are we living in a society that is investing a mere fraction of our annual budget into one of the most vulnerable cross section of this populace? Do our leaders not recognize that not only are we the leaders of tomorrow but of today as well? Do our leaders not realize that without adequate investment our country may lose out on the promises of an effective, innovative workforce that is necessary for the growth and development of any country?

While we have your attention for youth month 2016, allow us to remind you of last years’ theme which vowed to “Give youth a voice and inspire greatness.” This is our voice, and your action needs to follow our words. We have listened for long enough and it is time that we see the promises manifested.

We demand that our education system be made a priority! There needs to be greater investment in not only the physical environment but also in the quality of education offered. We are poised for an era where we are taught to be a generation that explores rather than regurgitate. Where math and language are not the only order of the day and where we tailor our curriculum to mean what we say: that every child is different and should be treated that way.

We demand that you invest in our mental liberation rather than in our incarceration. While we appreciate the extensive measures that have been implemented to solve crime, we believe that it would be wiser to invest with the same vigour in prevention. This can be done by pumping our funds and our energies youth development programs and extra-curricular activities. These avenues are essential for holistic developing and honing interpersonal skills. If we input as much in this area as we do in others, it is sure to cure more deviant behaviour than a stop and search.

In closing, we ask you to hear our plea once more. We beseech you to not only invest your finances but also your time. You do not expect planes to land or boats to dock without that guiding light, and similarly, you should not expect youths to be adequately ready to take the reins if you do not invest the time to guide them.

Fellow youths, as we celebrate Youth Month 2016, I urge you to understand that the future is NOW! We cannot sit idly by for the older generation to invest in us; we must invest in ourselves and in each other. We have a lot to learn but we also have a lot to teach and we cannot be afraid or reluctant to let these lessons reign. After all, we must allow our investors to see a return on their investment.