Acting Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart (far??right) is pictured at the opening ceremony to mark International Year of the Youth, yesterday at Solidaity House. Also pictured are: (from left to right)??Leader of the Opposition, Mia Mottley, Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Stephen Lashley, President of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados, Sir Roy Trotman and United Nations Resident Representative for Barbados, Stein??Hansen.



Master of Ceremonies

Honourable Stephen Lashley, Minister of Youth, Family and Sports

Honourable Mia Mottley, Leader of the Opposition

Senator the Honourable Sir Roy Trotman, General Secretary, Barbados Workers’ Union

Mr. Stein Hansen, Deputy Resident Coordinator of the UN Office in Barbados

President and Executive of the Barbados Workers Union??Youth Arm

President and Members of the Barbados Youth Development Council

Other youth leaders, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen??

I am indeed honoured and pleased to address you on the celebration of International Youth Day. As you are aware The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming the year commencing on 12 August 2010 through 12 August 2011 as the International Year of Youth.

In its resolution proclaiming the Year, the General Assembly called on governments, civil society, individuals and communities worldwide to support activities at the local and international levels to mark the event. Under the theme ???Dialogue and Mutual Understanding,’ the Year aims to encourage dialogue and understanding across generations and promote the ideals of peace, respect for human rights and freedoms, and solidarity.

It encourages young people to dedicate themselves to fostering progress, including the attainment of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which seek to address a number of social ills ranging from extreme poverty, hunger and maternal and infant mortality to lack of access to education and health care, all by 2015.

The celebration of International Year of the Youth (IYY) worldwide can provide us with the impetus that is necessary to ensure the widest possible participation of youth in the development of our country and in how they may participate in finding solutions to global challenges.

At the very beginning of our term of office, the Government determined that the development of our youth would be placed at the centre of our economic and social policies.?? We therefore insisted that this progressive focus on our young citizens should be permanently recorded in our Youth Manifesto which pledged to ensure that young Barbadians are given an opportunity to participate in the decision making process.

We also pledged, among other things, to create mechanisms to strengthen youth organizations and enable young people generally to pursue productive and purposeful activities.

It must be noted that having made these commitments the Government of Barbados immediately on assuming office set out to consult with the young people of Barbados.?? During the period July to November 2008, a National Youth Consultation was conducted by thirty-five young persons drawn from various organizations using the Participatory Learning Assessment Method. This method of consultation was the first of its kind to be conducted in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean where young people were interviewed by their peers.?? This approach created the atmosphere of candour and familiarity where young citizens were allowed to vent but yet put forth tangible ideas to promote national development.

The information gathered by the young people will now be updated and, along with other mechanisms, will assist us in the development of the National Youth Policy of Barbados.

I am also pleased to report that a Committee under the Chairmanship of Mr. Dereck Alleyne and assisted by Consultant, Dr. Ivan Henry has been hard at work in preparing that Draft National Youth Policy.

I should like to use this opportunity, to encourage all young people as well as other citizens of Barbados to attend the town hall and community outreach meetings to share your views on this very important subject. I am of the view, that the kind of youth policy we craft today will have significant impact on the development of young people and more importantly on the future development of our beloved country.

In addition, since his appointment in March this year, Minister Stephen Lashley has moved quickly to establish a National Youth Forum to honour and empower our youth.?? This national institution was launched on July 4th this year and has been enthusiastically embraced by Barbadians.

The National Youth Forum is a key part of Government’s policy of embracing the youth by affording them an opportunity to caucus among themselves and provide invaluable feedback to us on policies and programmes that affect them.

I wish to commend the Minister, the officers of the Ministry of Youth, Family and Sports, the hundreds of volunteers of the National Youth Forum along with the corporate and social sponsors for their outstanding work in the Launch of the National Youth Forum and in the success of the subsequent business meeting which was held on Saturday 17 July 2010 at the University of the West Indies and which attracted several hundred young persons from across the island.

One of the immediate tasks of the National Youth Forum will be to review and assist in finalizing the national youth policy.

I am particularly pleased to report that the first business session of the National Youth Forum highlighted several thematic youth issues which will be further discussed and refined at the next business forum which is scheduled for Saturday 14 August 2010 from 10.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. at the Barbados Community College, Ivy, St. Michael. Let me also encourage you to attend and lend your voices to this movement.

During this International Year of the Youth, notwithstanding the current economic conditions, the Government of Barbados will continue to make the necessary investments in our young people, because we are of the view that the investment we make today in our young people will determine the kind of future that we leave for generations to come.

The Ministry of Youth, Family and Sports will work with the National Youth Forum and youth organizations to ensure that the objectives of the International Year of the Youth are met within the context of the Barbadian reality.

The Government recognizes that it cannot on its own tackle all of the challenges of youth and we?? therefore welcome?? the continued support of?? the?? Private Sector and Civil Society as we seek to encourage dialogue and understanding across generations while promoting the ideals of peace, respect for human rights and freedoms, and solidarity during this Year of the Youth.

We will continue to focus on promoting projects and progammes aimed at the development of the youth in ways that will make them productive and worthy citizens.

In conclusion, I wish to emphasise government’s commitment to??the Youth Development Process and I am of the view that if we are to achieve world class status then the main drivers of the process must be our young people.

Let us salute and recognize the outstanding contribution of our young people to the development of our beloved nation as we celebrate International Youth Day today.

On behalf of the Government and People of Barbados, I salute the youth of our nation and encourage each and every one of you to use the coming months to focus on the important role you wish to play in our island’s development and also on how you will join with the Government, private sector and civil society in realizing our collective national goals and aspirations.

May God bless you all. I thank you.

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