A mentorship programme conceptualised to empower and uplift young people residing in the City has been officially launched.
The City of Bridgetown Humanitarian Assistance Foundation (COBHAF) was launched in Jubilee Gardens with a parade of youth through Bridgetown yesterday morning.
The programme, which will target young people between the ages of seven and 16, will have several components including free 11+ lessons, a homework and reading club and cultural activities such as song writing and will be supported by a volunteer component.
Present at the launch was Reverend Paul Leacock, chairman of the COBHAF Executive, who opened the proceedings with prayer and Secretary of COBHAF’s Youth Academy Executive Committee Jakita Connell, who gave the official welcome.
Featured speaker Sean Clarke, CEO of Supreme Counselling for Personal Development, chose “Change Must Begin With Me” as the theme for his address.
Clarke pointed out that from his experience, working with parents was a critical step towards making a positive difference in reaching young people and appealed for education to be more tailored to the abilities of children.
Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic, member of Parliament for the City and the person who conceptualized the project, revealed that having grown up in the area he also possessed a vested interest in assisting with the development of the community.
“The problems in the City goes beyond political partisanship and a quick-fix programme will not work. The Youth Academy is perhaps the most significant thing because that is where some the issues and challenges lie within the City,” he explained.
He also said they aimed to produce “City youth with a more positive mindset, higher self esteem and more marketable [skills]” with the aim of alleviating poverty.
Bostic said the programme was not only sustainable, but had the ability to inspire a national programme. He also insisted that there was a link between breathing life back into Bridgetown and the aims of the Foundation by injecting regular cultural and entrepreneurial activity, which must be embraced and led by City dwellers.
Entertainment on the programme included a dance performed by Mailah Edwards of Praise Academy of Dance and songs by calypsonian Lawrence “Lorenzo” Gittens. Self-professed City boy from Chapman Lane, Dr Anthony “Gabby” Carter offered a stirring rendition of his classic hit Bridgetown Market.
Gabby told Barbados Today that he hoped the programme would receive full support from Government as well as the private sector.
“Anything to do with the youth, I always like to be involved. I’m hoping it gets full support from the entire country –the Government, the Opposition, youth groups, artists, educators and the whole spectrum of people who care about young people.”
Gabby who will be teaching song writing, also stated the immediate benefits: “It will keep them off the street, teach them discipline and skills and teach them how to respect themselves.”