Parliamentary Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, chatting with (from left) Past District Governor of the Rotary Club of Barbados, David Edwards, a participant at the conference, and Rotary South President, Stephen Broome, at the opening of the 2009 Rotary Youth Leadership Awards.

As Government moves to develop a Youth Policy for 16 to 25 year olds, it is "keenly anticipating some practical benefits to accrue to youth leaders" from the 2009 Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA).

Parliamentary Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, made this observation today, as she delivered an address at the opening ceremony of the 2009 RYLA, under the theme "The future is in your hands". The three-day event is being held at Kensington Oval.

Noting that Rotary International trained young people all over the world for a life of service within the community, Senator Garner said that through such programmes, the RYLA participants could "chart their lives and destinies in a positive way and become role models, even at such early ages as 16 to 25".

She added: "I trust that, over the next three days, you will interact in an extremely close manner with your colleagues, as you expand your knowledge of the finer points of effective public speaking, personal leadership, developing a personal action plan and becoming a role-model."

The Parliamentary Secretary urged the attendees to absorb everything that would be extended to them in terms of training. "I assure you, all aspects of your programme here in Barbados will be essential to your intellectual development in the near future, as you deepen your involvement in youth leadership systems in your several countries," she advised.

Mrs. Sandiford-Garner also reminded the participants that during the conference, the eyes of all Barbados, and indeed the Caribbean would be upon them, "seeking inspiration and encouragement about the future from you, the hope of our Caribbean world".

In addition to the local participants, there are over 50 representatives from across the region, including Martinique and Guadeloupe. RYLA 2009 was organised by Rotary Club of Barbados, Rotary West and Rotary South.

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