The Ministry of Community Development and Culture will soon be undertaking a comprehensive review of the Community Independence Secretariat’s (CICS) structure and programmes. The exercise is designed to promote wider adult participation in the annual Independence activities.

This was disclosed by Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Celia Toppin, as she delivered the feature address at the CICS’ Independence Celebrations Awards.  The event was held recently at the Grand Barbados Beach Resort, Aquatic Gap, St. Michael.

In praising those who participate yearly, she also challenged other Barbadians to play a more active role in the development of their respective parishes.

“While I appreciate the work that is being done year after year by the faithful few, we need to make others recognise that they too have a responsibility to their communities, and by extension, to Barbados.  This programme must not be seen as a “political” event.  The work that it can do is far too important to Barbados’ social development, and so it must never be allowed to disintegrate in partisan wrangling,” Ms. Toppin warned.

In keeping with the Ministry’s thrust for greater visibility of the work done in communities by the CICS, the Deputy Permanent Secretary advised the department to collaborate with key government agencies and the private sector to effect this.

“There must be strong collaboration with the Ministry of Education and with the schools.  There must be a formalised relationship with the National Cultural Foundation and the Community Development Department.

“And, of course, the role of the private sector cannot be underestimated.  Greater involvement on the part of the business sector is critical. Government on its own cannot bear the total responsibility for sustaining programmes like this, programmes designed to strengthen our communities.”

Ms. Toppin also urged corporate Barbados to include additional monies in their budgets to support the CICS programmes.

“My exhortation to corporate Barbados is that when you formulate your budgets each year, you should never lose sight of the fact that the sustainability of your enterprises will, at the end of the day, depend heavily on the extent to which Barbadian society is strong and healthy,” she said.

Acknowledging that the CICS programme was unique, the official said its activities must step up to another level.

“We have to put strategies in place to encourage wider participation in this programme by young people.  We have to be able to reach those young people who at the moment are existing almost on the periphery of society, and who are perceived as problems.”

During the ceremony, a number of awards were presented to Parish Ambassadors, their attendants and others who made an outstanding contribution in their communities.

The most outstanding Parish Ambassadors Juanita Rock and Kevin Stuart, who represented the parish of St. Peter, headed the list of awardees, who also included Attendant of the Year Shonn Boyce of St. Peter and the Rhema Dancers of St. Thomas.

Prizes were also presented to the winners of the gardens competition. In that competition, Marlene Cheeseman of St. Joseph copped the first prize; while Orson and Madeline Daisley of St. Philip and Edwina Alleyne of St. Lucy received the second and third prizes, respectively.

Other stakeholders who also assisted the CICS were also recognised.

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