Minister of Youth, Stephen Lashley

Government has committed millions of dollars over the next financial year to programmes across several ministries that will cater primarily to young Barbadians.

Minister of Youth, Stephen Lashley, made this disclosure over the weekend while delivering the feature address at the graduation ceremony for the Youth Achieving Results Performing Arts Programme at the Queen’s Park Steel Shed, the City.

Mr. Lashley promised that these projects would continue as government sought to reach every young person in the country. He alluded to the National Camps Programme as one such initiative and pointed out that last year it touched the lives of over 10,000 young men and women, both as campers and Camp Assistants. ??He added that a similar number should be involved in this year’s camp, which will be held at over 80 venues across the island.

He called on Barbadians to encourage young people to get involved in meaningful programmes in their neighbourhoods that support community intervention and development. "Our communities must not be held hostage by a few persons that seek, not to build, but to destroy. The empowerment of our youth will go a long way to counteract that kind of negative thinking and behaviour," Mr. Lashley maintained.

The Minister urged more media houses to highlight positive things relating to the youth. He expressed the view that appreciation and recognition in the form of media coverage would play a great part in heightening the self-esteem and confidence of young people, so they would become more involved in national development. "Indeed, I expect very soon to see the launch of a television channel to highlight our positive youth, with young people themselves conducting the televised programmes," he disclosed.

The Youth Achieving Results Programme is a 12-year-old project which gives young Barbadians an opportunity to receive training in a discipline in the performing arts. It is conducted by the Youth Development Programme and the National Cultural Foundation.

Mr. Lashley lauded the programme and the partnership, stating it had helped to realise the potential of many young people and had demonstrated the efficacy of developing synergies between the two organisations. "Programmes such as these are important to the sustainable development of our country, since they focus on the human capital, which, in Barbados, is our largest and most important resource.

"It is for this reason that all organisations should continue to support this and other programmes that encourage our youth to be critical thinkers, while making a contribution to the emerging cultural industry," he stated.

According to him, the Youth Achieving Results Programme had already seen some success, with graduates performing regularly in the island’s calypso tents, on the hotel circuit and with established musical bands.

The Youth Minister also told the gathering that the Youth Development Programme’s Community Cultural Training Programme was currently being held at several locations across the island. He added that as a result of this training, he expected to see an increase of community groups participating in this year’s National Independence Festival of Creative Arts and Community Dance Fest.

Those receiving awards during the night included Quinn Belgrave for Most Improved Voice and Shamika Carrington and Karen Oliver for Most Outstanding Students.

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