Saint Lucia
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Youth Month focuses on More Opportunities for Young People

ALRYSC members share ‘Ice Cream Smiles’ with community residents.
ALRYSC members share ‘Ice Cream Smiles’ with community residents.

In commemoration of the annual observation of Youth Month, the Commonwealth Secretariat has designated this year as the ‘Year of the Youth’—and on the home front the authorities are stepping up their operations to allow more opportunities for young people to harness and nurture their skills.

Youth Development and Sports Minister Kenson Casimir is upbeat about greater prospects in store for the younger generation, particularly with global modernization through the advent of digital technology, science and the promotion of sustainable development ethos to engender livelihoods.

Casimir, a young debutant minister within the ranks of the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) administration has publicly expressed his intentions to help young people channel their resources into productive enterprises in pursuit of their goals.

He said with the pronouncement made by the Commonwealth, government kicked off the activities, in April, despite having to forego some external issues relating to young people due to hazardous weather conditions.

“We are using April as the springboard …and will continue with activities throughout the year,” Casimir told reporters, at a recent media briefing.

The ALRYSC crew
The ALRYSC crew

He highlighted some youth-related activities that have been held so far, including; an Easter Summer Camp, held throughout the communities that commenced with a Praise and Worship segment.

There are also ongoing activities taking place in Soufriere, Gros Islet and other constituencies. In addition, said the minister, “Youth Parliament is coming up very soon, so I’m very excited about what young people will have to say …and the whole thrust is to have more frequent youth parliaments. So, we will see another Youth Parliament (held) later in the year …as we believe that we must give young people the opportunity to speak (out) more.”

Casimir noted that the Youth Year activities will focus on the “Fight against Crime”, and supportive programs will include a Dance Competition and other art forms. The ministry of youth and sports has also collaborated with the St Lucia Football Association [SLFA] Inc. “to bring out some messages as it pertains to fighting against crime”.

“And so, I feel that we are heading in the right direction and more things will happen as the year goes by,” said the Gros Islet MP.

He added, “We launched Skills 758 – a platform that allows young people to go on to provide information on their CVs, job searches and job seekers, employers, and employees to connect by.

“We have identified that as one of the major issues for our young people, of not getting job opportunities. And so, this is a major activity that we had with an official launch that was televised all over the place.”

Commenting on the recent launch of the Youth Economy Agency [YEA], Casimir said, “There is a huge collaboration between the Youth Economy Agency and the Ministry of Youth Development and Sport. We have stated that we are going to be professionalizing football …and that is not just a football initiative, because we bring in young persons that are into photography, videography and other aspects of sports like physiotherapy, into the actual thrust to do things.”

The minister also spoke on the introduction of an ‘Alternate Sports’ season into the arena, thereby substantiating the nexus that exists between youth and sports.

Interestingly, April is also being recognised as National Credit Union Youth Month – the time each year when credit unions teach and encourage kids to develop strong financial habits. This year’s theme is Unleash the Power of Saving at Your Credit Union.

“Youth Month presents an opportunity to celebrate the spirit of the credit union movement with younger members. It plants the seeds of financial well-being at an early age,” said Megan Crowson, manager of consumer engagement for Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

Last year, 713 new youth accounts were opened, and 23,490 deposits made during Youth Month. Participating credit unions encouraged kids to share, spend and save wisely through their credit unions with giveaways, contests, virtual financial education and more.

Again this year, there are many ways for credit unions and their members to get involved in this industry-wide celebration, including participating in the National Youth Saving Challenge.

Meanwhile, last Sunday (April, 16) was recognized internationally as Good Deeds Day. Good Deeds Day is a global celebration that unites people from more than 100 countries to do good deeds for the benefit of others and the planet.

In recognition of this day, the Anse La Raye Youth and Sports Council (ALRYSC) decided to give back to the community through an initiative, called ‘Ice Cream Smiles’. Sponsored by Ferrands Ice Cream, the initiative focused on spreading love and camaraderie by awarding ice-cream cones, in exchange for smiles.

According to the organisers, as part of the activities for Youth Month 2023 this initiative was well executed and well received by the people, while adding: “Huge thank you to Ferrands Ice Cream for the donation. It was very much appreciated!”