As he concluded his presentation on Day Two of the 2020-2021 Estimates, Minister of Youth Affairs and Community Empowerment Adrian Forde took the opportunity to warn Barbadians of a new mind-altering substance that is threatening to destroy the health of young people.
“The Prime Minister has given me responsibility to partner with the National Council on Substance Abuse, the Barbados Drug Service, the Ministry of Health, the Immigratoon Department and the Attorney General’s Office to stop the prevalence of Purple Drank and Lean. These products represent a perfect political, social and economic storm if we do not curb their use.”
Forde, who is Member of Parliament for Christ Church West Central and a pharmacist by profession, continued, “I am making a plea to our young people to take stock and stop the nonsense, because there are dangerous effects when they combine these with cough syrup, Jolly Ranchers and amphetamines.
“When young people use these things, they cannot tell you what they did the night before, and with the heat created as an after effect, they are taking off their clothes. How can this be seen as normal behaviour? They are also capable of destroying all of your internal organs and it is my call today to put parents on guard. We will use our Youth Commissioners and other community workers to get the message out.”
Earlier, Forde stated that the recently established Barbados Youth Advance Corps had done well in its first year of existence, and with $9 million allocated to it this year, the programme will be able to introduce courses catering to the interests and imaginations of young people.
“We find they are interested in technology such as computers, smartphones and also have an interest in animation. Through this programme we want to create world leaders, so we had to broaden the nature of the courses offered and these courses are expensive.”
Director of the Youth Advance Corps Hally Haynes said his organisation features tailor-made programmes for its candidates.
“We do a pre-assessment to find out where they are and we teach them civics, leadership, mentorship and financial literacy. One of the key things we do is to find out what our candidates are interested in and once we ascertain that, we work accordingly.”
He added that the Building Blocks programme will eventually be set up in all 30 constituencies. In response to questions about the number of Youth Commissioners, which is now down to 22 with three temporary officers among them, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry Yolande Howard stated that they were reassessing the posts and ultimately Youth Commissioners will be posted in each constituency.
The youth affairs minister also spoke of the under-19 football tournament that formed part of the Community Sports programme, noting that “this tournament is not only about sports but it also teaches the players life skills, and as part of it they receive HIV counselling as well as discussions relating to healthy lifestyles. Within the next couple of months we will also be launching a road tennis tournament in all the constituencies.”