Under this year’s theme Uplifting Youth for a Brighter Future, a multi-faith church service was held at the Wildey Gymnasium, to bring a close to the week of activities celebrating National Youth Week.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Dwight Sutherland, noted that the multi-faith service was a fitting way to conclude the ministry’s week of activities; as the service provided an opportunity for youth from various religious faiths, denominations, and social dimensions, to assemble in a safe space, where they could appreciate the rich value each other brings to Barbados’ social development.
Minister Sutherland told the youth in attendance: “I can assure you that your presence here in this place, at this moment in time, sends a clear and irrevocable message that, as a country, we are prepared to embark on an important journey of togetherness, harmony and peace, which are all universal human values that transcend all religions, fraternities, ethnic groups and races.
“Indeed, it is these universal values that we are calling on to bind young people together to invoke the spirit of love, respect and charity, that can foster the creation of a society which is based on equity and fairness, and one that can ensure that no individual is left behind. This is, philosophically, the basis on which each citizen and each young person can optimise his or her natural skills and talents, and be able to grasp opportunities, effectively manage life’s challenges and realise their full potential.”
The Youth Minister pointed out that the service was timely, as it coincided with a call for national prayers to address the challenges being faced by the COVID-19 pandemic, which not only threatened lives, but has also threatened livelihoods; and has served to derail government’s efforts to deal with some of the “nagging social issues”, which are affecting youth in a major way.
Though hampered by the pandemic, the minister noted that efforts have been made to deliver interactive and face-to-face programmes which seek to address some of the challenges youth face.
He added that his ministry has incorporated the use of technology where possible, and held smaller group activities in accordance with public health protocols.
He said: “We deem it absolutely necessary to continue to fervently develop and execute policies and programmes which enhance the employability of our youth through skills development, personal development training and work experience opportunities; support their ability to be successful entrepreneurs; strengthen their coping capacities; and empower them to be strong and resilient individuals.”
Mr. Sutherland made a call to those in the congregation and extended it to organisations within Barbados to work with the Ministry to find ways to uplift youth in Barbados by providing opportunities for employment; to learn a skill; have their basic needs met, and be an outlet to share their ideas of what is needed to build a better future for them.
“We must collaborate and listen to the needs, the concerns and the ideas which are articulated by young people, and which can inform sustainability in our communities and in our economy. We must combine our efforts to eliminate some of the inequities which exist among some of our youth, so that they can feel valued and appreciated and be motivated to be productive and responsible citizens,” he emphasised.