Sports for Life (SFL) Barbados has been praised for its work with the youth.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Dwight Sutherland, speaking during the 11th graduation ceremony of SFL Barbados at the Whitepark Wesleyan Holiness Church, on Saturday, stressed that such organisations play a vital role in society.
“It is programmes such as this that can only augur well for our younger generation as they set out on a journey that will lead not only to their success, but to nation-building…. The continued coordination of the Sports for Life programme represents the kind of activities which are necessary to build the capacity of our young people and to help them in realising their true potential.
“Every person is born with a natural skill or talent, and programmes such as this help to identify those skills and talents and to translate them into positive and productive activities. It is essential that we continue to support programmes that focus on youth development, so that we can reduce youth unemployment, reduce youth crime and violence, and prepare our young people to be leaders and global citizens of the future,” Minister Sutherland stated.
He thanked SFL Programme Director, Kathy Harper-Hall, and her team of volunteers at SFL Barbados, for their dedication to the programme, and gave the commitment that the Ministry would continue to support the initiative.
Mrs. Harper-Hall shared that the programme, which started in September 2019, was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result, the one-year programme turned into two and half years, and despite the interruption, the 30 youth who participated, along with staff, showed creativity, perseverance and dedication to completing the programme.
She pointed out that the children, who attended classes on Saturdays at the Stephen Alleyne Sport for Life Learning Centre at Kensington Oval before the pandemic ‘hit’, had to switch to online sessions.
She said at first staff were apprehensive that the children would not be willing to participate in online sessions after completing online school during the week, but “they proved us wrong and were happy to join the online Sport for Life sessions”.
Mrs. Harper-Hall said the children were taught remedial Mathematics, English, Reading, Information and Communication Technology. They were exposed to craft; self-defence techniques; drama; cricketing skills; table etiquette and basic life skills, like decision making, conflict resolution, self-esteem building and team work.
Chairman of SFL Barbados, Brenda Pope, shared some background information on the programme which caters to youth aged 10 to 16.
She explained that to date, over 700 young people had completed the programme, thanks to the assistance of sponsors, namely the Sandy Lane Charitable Trust, Kensington Oval Management Inc. (KOMI) and Chickmont Foods Ltd.
Both Minister Sutherland and Ms. Pope thanked the current sponsors and made a plea for corporate Barbados to come on board and support the organisation. Ms. Pope shared that the amount to sponsor a child for the next cohort of the SFL initiative was BDS $1,500.
During the graduation ceremony, which had as its theme “Success is Earned, Not Given”, participants received certificates of participation and completion of the programme, as well as awards for attendance, leadership, positivity, most improved and spirit of SFL.
Four graduates – Shay Clarke, Elijah Packer, Trinity Proverbs and Shaquan Stowe – gave testimonials about their experience during the programme. They revealed that it was fun and that the lessons in Maths and English helped to improve their performance at school.
They also said that they would recommend the programme to their peers. Sports for Life Barbados is a non-profit organisation and is the legacy programme of World Cup 2007.
It is also a charity programme of the International Cricket Council, and is fully recognised and supported by SFL International; the England and Wales Cricket Club; the West Indies Cricket Board; the Barbados Cricket Association; the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment and KOMI.