REMARKS BY THE MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND CULTURE,
HONOURABLE MYRON V. WALWYN
ON THE LAUNCH OF YOUTH POLICY
AND ANNOUNCEMENT OF 2015 EMERGING FELLOWS
Monday, April 27, 2015
Maria’s by the Sea
I join the speakers before me in recognising the presence of:
- Premier, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE
- Speaker of the Virgin Islands House of Assembly, Honourable Ingrid Moses Scatliffe
- Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources & Labour, Dr. the Honourable Kedrick Pickering
- Members of the House of Assembly
- Dr, Marcia Potter, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education & Culture and staff members
- Members of the Virgin Islands National Youth Policy Committee
- Members of the Emerging Fellows Committee
- Ms. Dwynette Eversely, VI Youth Policy Consultant
- 2015 Emerging Fellows and
- Members of the Virgin Islands private sector, sporting organisations, academic institutions and the young people that have joined us today
- Mr. and Miss Fifth Form, Akeem Stanley and Mya Browne
Today’s youth is the fastest growing demographic in the world’s population. According to a report from the World Bank, countries that invest in their youth have the opportunity to see a surge in economic growth. Those that do not invest in the lives of their young citizens, experience tensions that present obstacles to any growth.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that this short note is something that we in the Virgin Islands need to consider in greater detail. Young people all across the world bring with them the energy, talent and imagination that fuel the most advanced societies. Yet for many in the developing world, we are still struggling to find ways to capture and direct that youthful energy in a way that adds value to the society and our youth.
I stand here today as someone who has had the wonderful opportunity to regularly interact with our Territory’s youth and I can honestly say that our youth in this Territory, have the capacity to answer the call to serve our Territory well.
Just about two week ago I saw this first hand as I joined the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College’s Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honour Society - who joins us today with their advisors - at their annual convention Nerd Nation 2015 in San Antonio, Texas. Our students did not travel to the United States to take a trip and sit in the audience. I proudly had a chance to witness presentations and the acceptance of prominent awards for their hard work in academics. May I ask the members to stand and be recognized along with their supportive advisors, Dr. Sauda Smith, Dr. Cassander Titley-O’Neal, Richard Georges and Debra Hodge.
A few weeks ago the entire Caribbean had the opportunity to watch our young people participate and medal at this year’s CARIFTA Games, some of whom were past Emerging Fellows and one who holds the Territory’s Long Jump record, Mr. Akeem Bradshaw, a 2015 Emerging Fellow.
It was former United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt who said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” Under the leadership of our Premier, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, over the past three and half years, his government has sought to do just that.
Our task as a Government, as members of the private sector, as members of faith-based or social organisations, and as a community, is to support our young people and guide them to a path that will ultimately not only lead them to personal success, but also one that will lead this country to great prominence.
I stand here today on a day that seems to culminate much of the work done over the past three and half years to empower and embolden this Territory’s young people as we finally join other nations in the developed world in providing a national policy to guide youth development.
We have always had the right amount of talent and enthusiasm from our young people, what we lacked as a society was a structured pathway – a road map if you will - to harness that same energy and guide their development. Ladies and gentlemen we now have that road map and it is called the Virgin Islands National Youth Policy and Strategic Framework.
Historically in the Virgin Islands, the issue of youth development and youth participation always seemed to be a distant concept. We sing the song that our young people are the future and the leaders of tomorrow. Yet it appears that the future never comes and tomorrow keeps being postponed, until a young person turns the age of 18 and attains the right to vote. It is time for us as a Territory to put our money where our mouth is and present structured plans and policies for the advancement of our young people.
Much work has been done to produce a policy that presents a multi-faceted approach to youth development. Over the years we have had a chance to talk with youth at various levels and interests around our islands and this policy seeks to comprehensively develop our young people under these six broad goals:
- Education and Training
- Employment and Entrepreneurship
- Care, Safety and Protection
- Sports and Recreation
- Health and Wellness
- Identity, Culture and Social Cohesion
In the Ministry of Education and Culture we have begun the work of realising these goals, as they have been integral in our policy planning and administration from day one.
As we finally launch this Youth Policy, I am looking forward to the institutionalisation of our National Youth Commission, our National Youth Council and Youth Parliament. As early as July, the youth of this Territory will have the opportunity to take ownership of this Youth Policy as we prepare them to be a part of the sitting of the Commonwealth Youth Parliament at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s meeting, which will be held here in the Virgin Islands.
The Youth Parliament will enable young people across the Territory to develop their skills and to advocate meaningfully on different platforms and themes that impact them. The Parliament contributes to a strong and secure Territory by developing our young people and by their participation, allowing them to mature as politically accountable and responsible citizens, grounded in a civic consciousness, national identity, democracy and the rule of law, and respect for rights and diversity.
I take this time, to thank in advance, our Speaker of the House of Assembly Honourable Ingrid Moses-Scatliffe and all members that have pledged to work with our Youth Parliamentarians and guide them in parliamentary procedures.
I hope that in the next 10 to 20 years this will be the foundation on which we as a Territory would be able to produce leaders that continue to build this nation for long term success, as many of our leaders have so done.
Many thanks to the young people that comprised our Youth Policy Committee, many of whom are with us today. Thank you for your time and your hard work and I hope that all of you continue to be engaged and let us work together for the advancement of all youth in this Territory.
The Virgin Islands Emerging Fellows Award fits squarely into goal #1 of our National Youth Policy, which is to ensure that all youth have adequate access to quality education and training to develop their competencies and skills. Through this programme we have been able to fund opportunities that have stretched the imagination of our past fellows, opened new opportunities for some and developed in many, a quest to be their best, while adding to the advancement of this country.
This initiative continues to showcase some of the brightest talents in this Territory. I am honoured to be standing amongst these young people today who represent a cross section of who we are as a community and even more so, our potential as a Territory. We started with just two Fellows in 2012 attending and participating in the London Olympic Games, six students in 2013, eight in 2014 and today we have with us 14 Fellows, inclusive of 2 students from our differently abled population.
On this stage here, Premier, we might have a great marine engineer, a young lady who one day might be the head of a large architectural firm, we have amongst us future Olympians, teachers, doctors, musicians, artists and perhaps even a budding politician. Our young people across our islands continue to show us that when presented with opportunities they are ready to get involved and surpass even their own expectations. I remain exceedingly proud to have had the opportunity to showcase and support the Virgin Islands greatest asset, its youth.
Premier, members of the House of Assembly, ladies and gentlemen it is now my honour to present to you our 2015 Virgin Islands Emerging Fellows:
- Kosay Jabre of Cedar International School will be attending a New York University Summer Leadership Programme.
- 9th Grade student Jackisha Rigobert of Bregado Flax Educational Centre will be attending the Penn State University Forensic Science Youth Programme.
- Adrian Taylor of the Elmore Stoutt High School will be attending Hoop Group Junior American Basketball Camp.
- Akeem Bradshaw of Elmore Stoutt High School will be attending an athletic training camp in Florida, USA.
- Sylvanna Charles will be attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts Summer Programme in New York.
- Sapphire Flax-Clarke is presently away attending Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania studying Forensic Biology. She will be attending the St. George’s Med/Vet Summer Leadership Academy.
- Rebecca Nocholds of Cedar International School will be participating in the 2015 EmbARC Summer Design Academy at UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design.
- 15-year-old Terrell Harrigan will be attending a summer developmental programme at Vanguard School’s Summer Programme in Florida, USA.
- Kadeem Smith will be receiving professional music training at Vanguard School in Florida.
- Kaveh Penn a senior student at the Bregado Flax Educational Centre – Secondary Division will receive Professional Mariner Training at the Chapman School of Seamanship.
- Izariah Frett of St. Georges Primary School will be using her award to attend Racers Track Club’s Summer Camp in Jamaica.
- Hunter Christopher of the St. Georges Secondary School will be attending the National Youth Leadership Forum (NYLF) at Emory University where she will be exploring STEM subjects.
- Keanu George a student at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College will be attending Interlochen Center for the Arts.
- Johanna Gibson a senior at Bregado Flax Educational Centre – Secondary Division will be attending Columbia University’s Summer Programme for High School Students.
As always I take this opportunity to remind all Fellows, present and past, of the enormous opportunity that this Government and the people of the Virgin Islands have invested in you. This grant was designed to fuel your passion and we fully expect to see in your work and in your lives a continuation of excellence that afforded you this opportunity.
As you meet new instructors, mentors and friends this summer, be reminded that you are young scholars, athletes and artists, but you are also ambassadors for the Virgin Islands. We expect that you will continue in the same light as past Fellows and represent the Virgin Islands well.
As we celebrate your accomplishment, let me also say congratulations and job well done to your parents, coaches and instructors. Fellows, while they might not have the honour of standing on stage today, they too deserve the same recognition for their hard work and motivation that have gotten you all here thus far.
Let me take this time to also say a special thank you to the Emerging Fellows Committee, chaired by Mr. Arthur Selwood. The Committee comprises of very talented members of our community that continue to give of their time and I say thank you for your time and work.
While we do not know what the future holds, as a Government we have taken heed to the words of President Roosevelt and as we officially launch our National Youth Policy and celebrate our 2015 Virgin Islands Emerging Fellows, I do hope that history would be kind to us, our investments in our youth will mature, and we are indeed building young people to face the challenges of the future.
Thank you all and may God continue to bless our islands.