Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment Adrian Forde said the newly implemented Building Blocks Programme will be the driving force to get youth in Barbados from resorting to violence.
Speaking at the handing over of keys for the newly-renovated Chesterfield Brewster Empowerment Centre which is set to be officially open to the residents of Silver Hill, Christ Church next month, Forde said that if the young people are empowered and engaged in positive activities they would not resort to violence.
“The only way that they can put down those weapons is if we empower them with something else and that is what we are doing with the building blocks [programme].
We are going to encourage them to have their own businesses on the same blocks. We are going to teach them – whether it is a language, the arts, character building – whatever they want to do,” Forde said.
The center which was renovated by The Maria Holder Memorial Trust bears the name of Chesterfield Brewster, one of the founders of the Trust.
The Member of Parliament for Christ Church West Central said that studies suggest that unemployed youth have a burning desire to become entrepreneurs hence why the Chesterfield Empowerment Centre was so important.
“This center allows members of the community to be able to ply their trade and have an entrepreneurship drive and that is what we are trying to do in Barbados as a Government. We are trying to get persons to chart their own destiny,” Forde, said, adding that members of the community can also receive their academic qualifications from the centre.
“We are going to teach CXC and small business courses. We are going to use the Ministry of Youth and Empowerment to champion those courses and ensure that persons in this community have an opportunity to advance themselves academically and that is part of building our citizens,” he told the media.
Giving a brief update on the current status of the Building Blocks Project Forde said that it is currently in its mapping and exercise stage and the community is being canvassed to hear first hand what the residents in Silver Hill, Christ Church want.
“We are going around the community to see what it is that people want. We call them ‘blockpreneurs’. Blocks in Barbados have been in existence from the time that Adam was a lad,” he said, adding that the mission of the Building Blocks Programme was to make blocks into positive business centers.
“A block is a part of the community but we have to change the way in which they operate because often we hear that the law enforcement agencies have pushed down the blocks. We are saying let us empower them that they can make legitimate businesses in those same areas,” Forde said. (LG)