On an internship in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 25-year-old freelance writer Keresa Arnold from Jamaica witnesses some invaulable youth work in action, helping young people to develop personal interests and professional skills.
Youth development is especially important, since it seeks to ensure continuity from one generation to the next. It is for this reason, that youth development is, undeniably, everybody’s business.
I am currently in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on a three-month internship organized by the Caribbean Internship Project (CIP) at the University of the West Indies, in conjunction with the Child Care Support Initiative (CCSI), based in Barbados.
The internship gives university students and recent graduates the opportunity to visit an island in the Caribbean and work with agencies that are involved in the improvement of that country’s human resource.
Working with the Roving Caregivers Programme (RCP) and the Early Childhood Health Outreach (ECHO) Programme in St. Vincent, I am able to get firsthand experience at a comprehensive and practical level. Both programmes target children from zero to three years who do not have access to formal early childhood education.
Through stimulation exercises with children and parents, in the form of play and other types of interaction, in addition to providing health advice, the programmes ensure that children are exposed to developmental initiatives at an early age.
By incorporating Caribbean youth into this process, these organizations undoubtedly understand the importance of youth engagement and involvement in sustainable development projects. Young people are made to plan, organize and implement different strategies that have significant impacts on programme outcomes.
Youth in disciplines such as communication, psychology and social work, are provided with hands-on experience, working with and contributing to improving the lives of citizens in these countries.
Social work intern, Talia Hunter, who has been involved with the project for a total of nine months, says the experience has been of significant benefit.
“My decision to be a part of the internship project was both for personal and educational benefits, personally because I saw it as a great opportunity to travel to a different Caribbean country and experience another culture and its people,” she says.
“I also felt that this would give me the chance to garner hands-on experience in my field of study, which is social work, and it would also be beneficial to me for potential or future job offers.”
Hunter says she is learning to take initiative, has gained new skills and is developing personal and professional interests, while getting the opportunity to network and gain relevant work experience.
“I think that my internship has helped me to contribute to the region in the sense that I am given the chance to put into practice what I was taught. It’s my opportunity to utilise my theories and to make them a reality in the agency in which I was placed.”
Every year, the CIP sends young persons from different countries in the Caribbean to work in development agencies in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, St. Lucia and Dominica. The internship project provides a unique opportunity for youth to gain valuable work experience, while giving back to the region.
An initiative of this nature has unreservedly set the standard for youth engagement on a practical and integral level. It ensures that development goals are met and that youth are made to understand their roles within the process.
Individuals, companies, governmental organizations and private citizens should understand the importance of youth, ensuring that they are incorporated into sustainable plans for the future.
After all, youth development affects us all.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. All articles are published in a spirit of improving dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
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