Barbados’ youth are about to be in the spotlight, and for all the right reasons.
Their positive achievements will be highlighted during National Youth Week which runs September 25 to October 1 under the theme, 50 Years of Excellence: Youth Unified – Charting the Way Forward.
In recent months, the involvement of young people in crime and deviant behaviour has been in sharp focus.
But as he announced the plans for National Youth Week, Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports Stephen Lashley said those young people who are doing good must also be given attention.
“I think there are more positive young people than deviant young people,” he said at the ministry’s Sky Mall office. “The discussion must not only reflect persons who offend but it must highlight and big up those young people who are leading the charge for the further transformation of our economy.”
“We speak of increasing productivity but a lot of that is happening as I speak, led by a lot of youth businesses,” Lashley added.
National Youth Week will begin on September 25 with a youth parade from Roberts Manufacturing Lower Estate St Michael to the St George Parish Church where a service will be held.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth will also host a special National Youth Consultation at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on September 28, to explore with young people the issues plaguing them and the solutions to those problems.
“We believe involving them in purposeful dialogue and helping them to shape the solutions to challenges is very important,” Minister Lashley said.
He added that he wants National Youth Service Day to focus on volunteerism in the community.
“We want to appeal to guys on the block, girls on the block, to everybody, to identify some meaningful activity in which they are going to be giving back to their community through national service,” he said.
“I feel that doing a good turn, cleaning up maybe a hard court, a pasture, painting somebody’s house . . . could be things that could help to create that ownership again in terms of community participation.”
Lashley further contended that the issue of violence must also be addressed at that community level.
“I think the communities need to speak out about it. It’s a community problem and once the communities see themselves as an extension of the ministries [and] the police, then I think that those issues will be nipped in the bud.”