Building a better world, partnering with the youth, is the theme of this year’s International Day of the Youth, to be celebrated on Sunday, August 12.
On this day the whole world will celebrate the passion and energy of young people.
Since 2000, when the first International Youth Day was celebrated, it has been a day all about and for young people. It’s about focusing on the issues they are concerned with, such as fighting corruption and assisting in making just societies.
International Youth Day is also for highlighting the challenges which still face so many young people, such as high levels of unemployment, a lack of the educational opportunities, and being marginalised from the decision-making process, but most of all, it is about celebrating the enthusiasm and accomplishments of our young people.
The United Nations Development Programme for the Caribbean, has, among others, answered the global call to action to develop and engage in partnerships with and for the youth, by creating Project Youth Innovation, also known as Youth-In.
Its genesis was in a 2010 CARICOM Youth Commission report: Eye on the Future: Investing in YOUTH NOW for Tomorrow’s Community, which showed the challenges of Caribbean youth and the costs to Caribbean society if there was no investment in youth.
Just as young people do, the Youth-In project dreams big. It is bold, ambitious and aims to change the world for the better.
Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, UNDP Resident Representative said: “We are living in such incredibly momentous times, but young people can change the world for the better and they can do it their way once given a chance. Youth should be given a chance to take an active part in the decision-making of local, national and global levels – and this the purpose of the Youth-In project – to empower young people to be active agents of change.”
The Youth-In project is multifaceted, giving young people in the region several platforms from which they can change the world in their own way. The project has five main “corners” — arts and culture, voluntarism, the Youth-In Think Tank, entrepreneurship and participation. Each of these corners has several different projects under it that are intended to engage young Caribbean people in a variety of ways.
Coming out of the arts and culture corner already this summer, was the Spice It Up Song contest, the finals of which took place at the St. Leonard’s Boys’ School two Saturdays ago.
That song competition attracted aspiring young singers and songwriters from Barbados and Grenada, who composed songs promoting disaster awareness and preparedness. The aim of allowing young people to “talk through the arts”, is to demonstrate alternative means of disseminating information in a way that can easily be digested.
Twenty-six year old Danielle Gibson, of Kingsland, Christ Church was the winner of that competition.
Also out of Youth-In was the Youth Think Tank of the Caribbean, which has also been in action this summer, with three of the 14 specially selected members of the Think Tank journeying to Kingston, Jamaica to participate in the Caribbean Regional Youth Leaders’ Summit and discuss a youth vision for regional governance.
The YTT for the Caribbean was launched on May 18, 2012 at the UN House in Barbados. It is one of few think tanks in the world that have been created to give the young generation a voice and it is unique in its structure.
The members of this select group were chosen through an open competition launched earlier this year where 14 young people were selected from 98 applicants.
Twenty-four year old Shari Pollard, winner of a 2012 Barbados Development Scholarship, is Barbados’ representative on the Caribbean Think-Tank.