|Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, The Hon. Stephen Lashley with Canon Ivan Payne and Mrs. Yvette Payne during the official opening.
Government is preparing to introduce a Mentorship and Job Attachment Programme for at risk, unattached youth between the ages of 16 and 24.
This disclosure came from Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, who told the congregation of the St. Philip Parish Church yesterday that his Ministry had received the approval of Cabinet to commence the programme.
Mr. Lashley explained: "The young people will be assigned to some of the island’s top Chief Executive Officers and business people who have consented to be mentors and to expose them to corporate best practices, attitudes and skills that would lay the foundation for them achieving success in future endeavours.
"While the programme will be piloted, it is envisaged that within one financial year approximately 100 previously unattached youth would have been given employment opportunities."
Admitting that the negative behaviour being portrayed in society was being embraced by a small segment of the population, the Minister said the church had a pivotal role to play in changing that conduct, as well as assisting government with its agenda to empower families.
"In October this year, I will be calling a summit of all church leaders to discuss some pertinent issues affecting Barbados, particularly our families and our young people. Already a committee has been established and further details will shortly be given. The information generated from this forum will be used to enhance a social development plan for Barbados beyond 2011," he promised.??
During the address to the congregation, Mr. Lashley underscored the importance of families, stressing that they were the bedrock on which a nation was built and sustained.
He lamented that at this very critical phase of the island’s development most families were under some stress because of the global economic recession. "But there are other things that are impacting us – a cultural penetration of foreign mores, language, dress, music and a movement away from the teachings of the church," he stated.
The Minister stressed that these challenges had resulted in a need to strengthen
families and give parents and guardians the confidence to properly raise their children.
"All the different scourges and the apparent crime and rising deviance have a negative influence on our most precious but vulnerable resources – our children. Thus, our children must be given the necessary care and protection," he surmised.
Mr. Lashley noted that for the past two years his Ministry had been offering a Parent Education and Support Programme in an effort to sharpen the skills of parents and empower families. He explained that in this safe training environment parents were given the opportunity to release any negative emotions and behaviours and become equipped with the necessary tools for successful parenting.