The Barbados Ambassador to the International University Sports Federation (FISU), Taahir Bulbulia and Barbados’ CARICOM Youth Ambassadors, Java Sealy and Meghan Theobalds, have officially joined forces to introduce several initiatives designed to mentor young persons within communities around the island using sports, while at the same time providing much need training workshops in the area of self-development.
The new partnership was birthed out of several conversations between Bulbulia and Theobalds on the ways to introduce meaningful educational experiences to the island’s youth, as Barbados continues to grapple with a surge in young people committing criminal acts.
The sporting program and training workshops will see various mentors from across different sectors of society entering communities, sporting clubs, national sporting organizations and schools, to do life skill lessons and professional development to the youth.
During a recent live launch of the ground-breaking new project, Bulbulia stressed that the new series of initiatives will not simply have mentors speaking at generic talks with young people, but will see these persons entering known at-risk communities to better target the youth in their usual surroundings, firstly with the Sports Connect Elites Campaign.
“This is where we will seek to go and engage, get on the ground, have conversations, go into communities and engage young persons in the field who are having challenges in our most vulnerable communities.
“We’ll engage and have conversations with them, and mentor them on the importance of participating in sports, the importance on becoming national ambassadors, becoming elite persons and how they can cope with today’s challenges.
“Not a lot of persons know that when you play for the national team in cricket or football, you are a national ambassador, and you have to be a role model, and more importantly, we want to be role models for them,” he said. The state of obesity affecting the island’s youth is also one of concern for Bulbulia, who promised the issue will also be addressed throughout the mentorship initiative as well as the educational workshops.
“We want to also advocate for the importance of healthy lifestyles. One in three children in Barbados is overweight or obese, we have a health crisis in itself. We want to advocate and show the youth the importance of eating healthy, [and] the importance of choosing healthy lifestyles and active lifestyles,” Bulbulia added.
Sealy emphasized that this initiative was in keeping with the goals currently being undertaken by CARICOM Youth Ambassadors from across the region, who are all committed to bringing a change in culture among citizens, to help better tackle health issues and crime.
“The collaboration combines our commitment as CARICOM Youth Ambassadors to our programmes’ goal of health and wellbeing for young people, because it is really a serious crisis.
We talk about serious crises all the time because of the nature of the Caribbean as it would seem, but there is so much that we can do because it all comes back down to culture. When we change the culture, then things change on the ground.”
Sports Connect Elites Campaign is slated to begin in the summer with the educational workshops expected to begin by the end of August, with 15 mentors ready and equipped to assist in the running of these sessions.