Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. The Hon. Esther Byer Suckoo’s Message for Caribbean Youth Day, September 30, 2009

Caribbean Youth Day is an initiative of the Commonwealth Youth Program (CYP) and since 1985 has been celebrated annually throughout the English-speaking Caribbean on September 30.

In 1985, the celebration of International Youth Year provided a unique opportunity for nation states to recognize Caribbean Youth Day and the role of the youth in the economic, social and cultural advancement of people, the implementation of the new international economic order, the preservation of world peace and the promotion of international cooperation and understanding.

This year, the Ministry of Youth, Family and Sports will mark the day under the CYP theme of "Youth Mainstreaming, Critical to Sustainable Development". There will be a panel discussion entitled "Youth Leaders Dialogue" at 5:00 p.m. today in the main conference room at the Ministry of Education, Elsie Payne Complex, Constitution Road. Young people will have the chance to express their views on the theme.

Our youth in this era face challenges like never before, as they grapple to find their niche in a rapidly changing global environment, that thrives on competition and has no mercy on Small Island Developing States. The relative instability of the world economic climate also makes it difficult for young persons to perceive opportunities for self- advancement. However, Caribbean youth have shown great resilience in their ability to be innovative and manoeuvre through testing circumstances.

As a region, we need to be committed to ensuring the legacy created by our youth in academics, culture and sport, or whatever avenue they choose to pursue, is continued and built upon.

With the Youth Mainstreaming Programme, Government endeavours to cater to the needs and aspirations of all young persons. We desire to create an enabling environment for the nation’s youth, where opportunities are present and everyone has a chance to succeed, regardless of their background or skills set.

Youth development can no longer follow old paradigms; it now has to be creative and tailored with the input of the youth it desires to serve. The involvement of young people in decision making and hearing their voices on issues concerning them are not options to be ignored. The Government has recognized such by the 2008 National Consultation and the pioneering of the National Youth Policy.?? This followed on the heels of the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development, which undertook a full-scale analysis on the situation of youth across the region. The Ministry of Youth, Family and Sports provided technical support to the Commission as we fundamentally agree that the youth are critical in spearheading change in their island states and by extension the region.

The Ministry continues to salute young people who are making strides in every facet of life, making Barbados proud and contributing to the advancement of the nation. Ambassador Ryan Brathwaite, an outstanding young man, has demonstrated to us all that our hope and our faith in our youth is not misplaced. The commitment he has to his dream of being "Number One" should inspire us, especially our youth, to continue toward our goal. The Ministry of Youth, Family and Sports will work to provide a milieu in which you can do your best.

We are committed to building the capacity of young persons of the soil so they can realize and achieve their highest potential. The Ministry also recognizes, highlights and rewards these achievements, the pinnacle of which is the annual National Youth Awards, scheduled to be held in November, 2009.

On yet another Caribbean Youth Day, let us commend our young people for their outstanding contributions to development, as well as seek out new ways to create space for them to actively participate and engage in the affairs of this nation.

Author: Ministry of Youth, Family and Sports

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