In an impassioned plea in the wake of the recent jump in gun violence, Prime Minister Mia Mottley today urged young people and parents to make choices that would best serve them for the future.
Speaking this afternoon at the opening of the Chesterfield Brewster Youth Empowerment Centre, Silver Hill, Christ Church, the Prime Minister told the gathering that Government was determined to give young people and their parents a wider range of positive things to choose from, as opposed to the negative alternatives that currently wreak havoc on society.
Mottley declared: “We have a duty to raise young people in a way that their lives can be productive and where they can make a difference.
“Life is about choices and I ask the people of Silver Hill to make the choice to take your children and determine if you want to see them in a youth service uniform or you want to see them on a platform singing, entertaining and making you proud. But you don’t want to see them in the middle of the road bleeding.”
The Prime Minister referred to the new youth centre, which was built by the Maria Holder Trust, at a cost of $2 million, as one of the new positive options now open to young people.
She also noted that Government has approved $5 million for sports and cultural training across the island, adding to the significant number of initiatives including trust loans and the restoration of free tertiary education.
The Prime Minister said: “We as a Government made the choice to pay for your children to go to university or the polytechnic if they want to go. They must not be prevented from going because people cannot afford it in this country. This is who we are as a people.
“We have equally made the choice that the training that regrettably stopped [in the last ten years] that used to happen across Barbados, will not only be resumed, but will be significantly enhanced.”
Mottley suggested that the pool of
excuses for poor choices was fast shrinking, as several keys have now been provided to
unlock entrepreneurial and creative talent among the youth.
She said: “Life is fundamentally about choices, even in terms of building back the economy we were so concerned about giving you the right to choose because freedom is choice. Quite often when you can’t make choices it is because something is curtailing you.
“I want the people of Silver Hill to be able to say that even though
things were hard along the way, you stayed the course and your children have now achieved and are making you proud.”
But she warned that these choices will only remain available if individuals play their part by properly maintaining facilities or repaying the trust loans, so that all Barbadians can benefit and not just a few.
The Prime Minister said: “Whether we can continue depends on everybody understanding that we have a role to play together. So for example if the people who benefit from the trust loans don’t pay it back then the country won’t have the opportunity to keep it going.
“The Maria Holder Trust is prepared to create a public space where children can go into and learn. We don’t want to see anybody come and put garbage around this building because we are going to make the choice to take care of this building and make the choice for our children to enjoy this building.”