September 30th has been recognised annually as Caribbean Youth Day, and at this juncture, youth leaders and agencies across the region, take the opportunity to recognise the achievements of our youth as well as the issues, successes and desirables of our times.
On this occasion, we take this opportunity to speak to the beckoning reality of integration and corporate development as a region, and are proud to reaffirm the commitment of all Caribbean youth leaders toward the formation of a regional youth entity to be known as the Regional Youth Council.
Our beloved Caribbean has often been described as a patchwork of countries with varying histories, linguistic traditions, cultures and identities. Fragmentation and separation have often characterised us moreso than unity and togetherness, and divisions within local territories have often been widened by divisions across territories.
Yet, with persistence and vision we have been able to overcome systems of social and economic stratification based on exploitation, deprivation and over dependence on metropolitan countries. Our achievements should never be taken for granted, but while we celebrate them, we must also forge ahead with efforts to improve the standard and quality of life of our people. Our capacity to build and develop our region, and to generate unique Caribbean-based solutions should not be downplayed.
Being a region where a significant section of the population comprises youth between the ages 15-29, there can be no doubt that one of the main tools for Caribbean development lies in harnessing the positive energy of our young people.
Across the Caribbean outstanding examples of young people working hard and maximising their potential can be seen. From the likes of our golden boys of Usain Bolt, Kirani James and Keshorn Walcott to our very own Darren Sammy and even pop icons like Rihanna, not forgetting our successful entrepreneurs, writers, models and other music artists. Caribbean young people have risen from a place of obscurity to place of reknowned global recognition.
They have brought us pride and joy and continue to add significant value to our social and economic landscape.
Youth continue to be impacted disproportionately by social problems such as crime and unemployment, yet we remain confident that these issues can be resolved with greater investment and involvement of young people in decision making.
Old practices of tokenism, patronage and exclusion must be replaced by a framework of rights and inclusion for Caribbean Youth in which, we hold those in positions of power and authority to a greater standard of accountability and transparency.
Our governments, businesses, development agencies and civil society all have significant roles to play, and it is now an obvious requirement that we work more harmoniously to ensure sustainability and for the dreams and aspirations of our youth to be fulfilled.
Fortunately, no longer are our youth constrained by classifications of race and class which were used to divide us, instead, Caribbean Youth see their creativity and potential being explored for the greater good as they connect with their brothers and sisters via new technological means or in person.
Our youth are therefore standing ready to play their part in forging ahead with the region’s development. All that is needed, is for the “conditions to be created”, the presentation of clear corporate vision, and the unwavering belief in our youths’ potential for the Caribbean region to climax in its development.
The Barbados Youth Development Council urges the youth of Barbados and the rest of the region, to participate, elevate your existence and contribute as it is your God-Given and national right, to the development of yourself, your community, your country and our world – the ecosystem of Life.
Happy Caribbean Youth Day!