Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Stephen Lashley????

Government will soon have a draft National Youth Policy which will be available for scrutiny by young people across Barbados.

This disclosure came yesterday from Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Stephen Lashley, as he launched the website for the National Youth Forum, in the main conference room of the Ministry of Education.

Mr. Lashley gave the assurance that the soon to be launched National Youth Forum would not be "scripted" by his Ministry and handed to young people. "We have started the work. We have done a lot of surveys and research…. It is a good start off point by which we can then engage with young people and say, let us now put the final shape to this national youth policy.

"That will happen by means of the National Youth Forum. As an adjunct to that, the website will be used to also get feedback… Once the draft National Youth Policy is completed and ready for circulation and discussion, it will be posted on the website for comment and scrutiny," he stated.

Persons may log on to to find out about the institution and make comments. The Minister described the website as a focal point of communication, while adding that they had already seen its tremendous value.??

Explaining its features, he said: "We have a suggestion form to facilitate input from young people and we have blogs to stimulate discussion on the various topics. We also have subscription to e-mail alerts and newsletters, video and pictorial galleries and links to other social network sites of the National Youth Forum and there is also Face book.

"… So far, more than 500 fans or friends of the Forum have gone online and they have actually indicated that ???we want to be a part of this National Youth Forum and we are ready to be volunteers’. So, that is phenomenal, especially since we are three weeks away from the launch of the Forum… We expect that number to grow significantly as we give more information."

Mr. Lashley noted that arrangements were in place to ensure the ongoing maintenance of the site. He disclosed that it allowed him to interact with some young people online, and hoped to continue to do so on another occasion.

He added that the names of those persons and companies that were partnering with his Ministry on this initiative would be posted on the website and they would later receive certificates of participation.

The National Youth Forum will be launched on Sunday, June 20, at Sheraton Mall, starting at 6:00 p.m. A number of outstanding young persons, including entertainers, will be highlighted, while the Ministers of Agriculture, Education, Economic Affairs and Culture, are expected to speak to the young people.

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