By Kyle Walkine, 2012 NYPS Delegate
After six (6) years of preparation and research, countless youth forums conducted throughout the Islands of The Bahamas and interviews with thousands of young people ages 15 – 35, a formal document of solutions created by the Bahamian youth leaders was presented to the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Dr. Daniel Johnson.
On Saturday, October 27th 2012, The Youth Department along with the National Youth Policy Team hosted the 2012 ‘National Youth Policy Summit’. The day long event that started at 9:00 a.m. and provided a platform for youth leaders, workers and professionals to exchange knowledge and skills, in attempts to find solutions for issues impacting upon youth throughout The Bahamas. The delegates, representing various youth organizations, including Island representatives and the 2012 National Youth Parliamentarians, took part in three (3) plenary sessions which hosted speakers like, Joseph Gaskin (PhD Candidate/Sociologist) Mark Humes (College Professor), Sandena Neely (Former Commonwealth Youth Ambassador), Damara Dillet (Attorney-At-Law) and Erin Ferguson(Media Personality/Talk show Host). Afterward, the delegates broke into six working thematic groups to finalize the six (6) key strategic themes of the policy.
The themes were all created and developed by young people who started the task some six years ago of researching what issues were important to youth in The Bahamas and how those issues impacted upon them did. The key themes were finalised as:
1) Identification & Self-Awareness;
2) Education, Technology & Capacity Building;
3) Employment, Social Enterprise & Young Professionals;
4) Health, Sustainable Livelihoods & the Environment;
5) Youth in Conflict with the Law, Access to Justice & Safety; and
6) Inclusion in the Decision-Making Process & Youth Empowerment
The inclusion of this year’s young delegates carried out the historic task of finalizing and presenting the document to the Minister of Youth Sports and Culture with the hopes that this document would go on to become The Bahamas’ first National Youth Policy.
During the Summit, delegates were also given the opportunity to put questions to the Minister in a more intimate setting. Crestwill Farrah, a youth delegate from the Island of San Salvador told the Minister that there was a need for “Our young people to understand the importance of lobbying in The Bahamas. It’s one of the many ways to show the strength of our voice.”
Minister Johnson stated that he hopes to bring the document to Cabinet sometime before the Christmas holiday and then onto Parliament for consideration within the 1st Quarter of 2013. He said, “This National Youth Policy will be number one on my agenda to take to Parliament.” He went on to state that “The Bahamas has some the brightest young people in the world and how important it is to establish a properly functioning National Youth Council.” He continued, “This Youth Council will be the national consulting body for issues regarding the young people of this nation.”
Minister Johnson also urged youth delegates to consider the question of “Who are we as a group of people, and where are we going?” He then encouraged delegates to continue to PUSH the Director of Youth, so that the Director continues to PUSH him, to ensure that the document is not put on the side like previous similar documents. Director of Youth, K Darron Turnquest in leading the closing charge, encouraged youth delegates to take this idea from ‘agenda to action’. He stated “As young people we must learn how to do more than just talk. It’s time to start the action.”
The event which was initially intended to cover two-days had to be reduced into a one day Summit due to Hurricane Sandy and despite the inclement weather, over 100 youth delegates, youth workers and young professionals pressed their to ensure that the final draft of the National Youth Policy was presented to the Minister Johnson. Holding the Minister to his word, the National Youth Policy Team has launched a Facebook page called “PUSH FOR POLICY” Campaign, as a public relation tool to further lobby for the final adoption of the draft policy by legislative leaders.
images by R Wells Photography
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