Commonwealth to assist St Lucia with major youth empowerment project
Contact: Prime Minister's Press Secretary
-- More than 100 “at risk and socially challenged youth” to benefit
Thursday, October 5, 2006 - Over one hundred young women and men in St Lucia who are at risk and socially challenged, will benefit from a Commonwealth Youth Programme Caribbean centre (CYPCC) sponsored innovative pilot programme to stimulate their interest in entrepreneurial activity.
The CYPCC has been approached by the Ministry of Commerce, Consumer Affairs, Industry and Tourism of St Lucia to provide support to develop a youth empowerment programme to target social exclusion among young people.
The Youth at Risk and Entrepreneurship Pilot Programme is part of a collaborative effort with the CYP, the Ministry Commerce, Consumer Affairs, Industry and Tourism, the BELFund, the Small Enterprise Development Unit (SEDU), the Poverty Reduction Fund (PRF) and other such national institutions collaborating with CYP on entrepreneurial development for young people.
It dovetails with CYP’s youth enterprise development programme that has been successfully operating in several countries. Youth Enterprise Development Programme Manager, Ms. Dwynette Eversley, revealed that CYP has evaluated many youth businesses developed under the Commonwealth Youth Credit Initiative.
“The unanimous feedback by young people is that they are happy for the opportunity to provide for themselves in a way they best determine. That, I think, is the crux of our success that we want to also make available to at-risk youth, who traditionally feel they are not consulted about important social and economic issues.”
The first phase of the project is a Training of Trainers Workshop to run from October 16 to 20, 2006. About 35 young people will be trained as community advocates and empowerment agents. The innovative feature of the pilot is that these persons are themselves at risk and victims of social exclusion, with its related economic, social and political impacts and pressures.
Youth at risk are among a growing cohort of young people who were singled out for special mention in a World Bank Report in 2003. The Report identified the growing trend of young women and men who are victims of social exclusion and the emerging pressing implications for them to be strategically re-integrated into societies to ensure the economic and social stability in the Caribbean community.
This pilot is in line with CYP’s strategic support to member-states in the area of Youth Enterprise and Sustainable Livelihoods. CYPCC expects to gauge important lessons about empowering and mobilising young people as agents of change in their communities and about the impact on employment generation among young people once the concept of business-ownership and credit has been de-mystified.
The training of trainers will be carried out in Achievement Motivation, Life skills Orientation and Business Identification. Through the latter activity, participants will be able to identify marketable business ventures that can be undertaken in their community. The trained youth will be a position to:
Commenting on the significance of this project, CYPCC’s Regional Director, Mr Henry Charles, said: “This project is part of CYPCC’s contribution towards ensuring that the Caribbean societies do not disintegrate into laboratories of hopelessness, despair and social instability but are instead transformed into cradles of creativity, social cohesion, economic prosperity and sustainable development.”
Plans for hosting this activity will be finalized during an official visit to St Lucia by Mr. Charles beginning Monday (October 9).
During his visit Mr Charles will also be participating in and presenting a paper entitled ‘Redefining the OECS Youth Development Agenda – Empowerment for Sustainable Development’ at a Conference on Youth Crime and Violence hosted by the St. Lucia-based Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
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