Plans are being made to ultilise sporting, cultural and other activities within local communities to address social issues among the youth.
During a tour on Wednesday, part of a two-month exercise, Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Dwight Sutherland, visited community centres under the aegis of the Community Development Department and sports pavilions under the National Sports Council to assess their infrastructure and to determine what resources are needed to improve the programmes being offered.
Citing Barbados’ cricket legends Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Everton Weekes and footballers, Gregory Greenidge and Victor ‘Gas’ Clarke, Mr. Sutherland pointed out that “they emerged from within communities that had vibrant sporting and social activities”.
He noted that back then, persons flocked to the various playing fields and community centres around the island as a means of recreation and as a way to showcase their talent.
“We’ve seen that diminish over the years and we asked ourselves why, and we as a Government have a responsibility to ensure that we bring back activities to the communities, to help build talent and to offer people opportunities and a way of life,” he stressed.
The Youth Minister stated that his ambition for the Ministry over the next two years was “to ensure three out of four young Barbadians are actively involved in a national, community, society, or group, as well as actively learning a new life skill, and very importantly for me, to reduce by half, the number of young people incarcerated per year.”
To do so, he noted, community centres and pavilions will be some of the avenues through which Government will seek to engage and empower the youth of the island, in hopes of reducing social problems such as deviant behaviour, unemployment, health and mental wellness.
Barbados has 74 sports pavilions and 42 community centres. The tour yesterday was to the north of the island and the sites visited included: Speightstown Community Centre, St. Peter; Rockfield Community Centre and the Checker Hall and Charles Griffith Pavilions in St. Lucy; and Belleplaine and Isolation Pavilions in St. Andrew.
Following the tour, Minister Sutherland disclosed that the Charles Griffith Pavilion in St. Lucy, where 1st Division Lord’s Cricket team is housed, will be one of the first facilities to receive improvements to its infrastructure, a move he believes will assist it in becoming a first-class cricket academy.