Youth come together for convention!

One of the largest youth gatherings was held at the Marigot Secondary School on August 24.  About four hundred young people from all around the island were bused to the venue for the second annual National Youth Convention held under the theme “Sustainable development; my contribution, my future, participating for progress.” The event was coordinated by the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Social Transformation, Youth and Sports and the National Youth Council.
It was a packed day with several speakers, many young entertainers and informative sessions centered on the theme and encouraging the audience to be part of a newly launched initiative Sign Up.  Sign Up is the brain child of Merphilus James and takes a nationalistic approach to socializing and re-socializing the island’s youth.
Ambassador Plenipotentiary to CARICOM and OECS Dr June Soomer revealed the National Youth Declaration presented at the convention would work to supplement the existing National Youth Policy.  Youth and Sports Officer Margaret Deterville emphasized in her presentation that young people need to be cultured and nurtured in order to be able to give back meaningfully to society.  Sustainable Development Officer Joanna Octave pleaded with the youth to think towards the future; live for today and think about tomorrow.  Her main focus was to educate those gathered about the cost implications on the environment of certain lifestyles and decisions.
NYC President Jonathan Chalon delivered a rousing address in a bid to empower the audience.  He began, “I borrow the thoughts of a man who volunteered his life for his beliefs and for our future Dr Martin Luther King: Everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don’t need a university degree to serve; you don’t even have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You need only a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.
“This is an opportunity to fulfill the declared mission of the NYC which is:to harness the talent, energy and creativity of youth in an effort to transform these into a potent resource for individual, community and national development.”
In speaking about how St Lucian youth can contribute to the progress of the nation, Chalon said, “There are several ways in which we may react. On one hand we can take the rebellious approach and confront the status quo and on the other hand we can take a collaborative approach and seek expression within civil society, by carrying out civil responsibilities as part of a youth group that aims at giving something back to the community, the school, the nation.”
He mused and explored the collaborative and rebellious approach to moving forward.  He noted the challenges today’s youth face including poverty, drugs, crime, violence, gang warfare, lack of tertiary educational opportunities, HIV and  STIs, lack of scholarships, environmental degradation, insufficient resources, lack of political will and unemployment.
He implored the young people to take a rebellious approach to development.  He explained, “The rebellion I am referring to speaks to a revolution of our mindset and practices. We need to start doing things better than we have in the past. Fair Helen has never needed its young people to be resilient, conscious and creative more than it needs now.
“The world economy is in horrible shape, our cultural norms and values are in profound metamorphosis, and our planet is changing. So we need to be ready for these changes. As a youth cohort we need to embrace the scout motto “be prepared.” Because if we fail to prepare then we are preparing to fail and failure is not an option. A revolution of our mindset requires that education be a priority for us all. And I am not only referring to your academic education but I’m also referring to our perspectives on social, spiritual and political phenomena.”
Chalon went on to advise the young people to take every opportunity to understand the various complexities that presently engulfs our society so that “if it becomes necessary to protest against the political directorate it will not be without purpose. With elections looming I can hear politicians on both sides speak about the youth, the youth the youth. You know why? Because we are the largest voting demographic and they need your support. But I am not hearing the strategic solutions required to steer us in the right direction.”
He continued, “The government recently hired a consultant to assess the current youth development situation and develop a strategic development plan but I never hear any reference to this research. I know many of you are political active and that is good; we need to know the issues and ensure that we hold those who claim they want to represent us to the highest of standards. And when they fail us we need let them know in no uncertain terms we will not stand for it.”
The NYC President believes that many of society’s current structures and institutions need to evolve in order to be relevant and potent.

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