Janine Thornhill of Trinidad and Tobago has been elected Chair of the Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Working Group (CYSDP). She will lead the group as it works to provide a voice for young people in the Commonwealth in matters of sport for development and peace (SDP).
Thornhill, who has served as a member of the group for two years, is affiliated with the Caribbean Sport and Development Agency. She expressed her “honour and delight” at the promotion, and previewed her plans for the upcoming year.
“I would definitely like to focus on tapping into non-SDP sectors such as health, education, and gender through networking and engagement sessions as I believe these are the people that we really need to convince about the power of sport as a development tool,” she revealed.
Thornhill also represented CYSDP at the recent 8th Commonwealth Sports Ministers Meeting in Brazil, and has pledged to increase the network’s engagement with senior officials.
The CYSDP is a small group of young SDP practitioners, and was established in 2013 with the support of the Youth Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat. Its mandate is to be: ‘the leading voice for youth in the Commonwealth towards promoting best practices in [SDP] in their respective societies—by targeting young people and policymakers.’
Thornhill takes over from Assmaah Helal of Australia, who served as CYSDP Chair from 2014-16. Assmaah is a Programme Coordinator at Football United and has worked to deliver inclusive sports programmes for women and girls from culturally diverse backgrounds.
She pointed to the creation of a SDP Youth Advocacy Toolkit as one of the highlights of her tenure, which she said had now been downloaded by and delivered to hundreds of young people around the Commonwealth.
Helal added, “My appointment as Chair came at a pivotal point in my career development. I learnt the value of communication and building relationships with the team to ensure we were all working towards the same goal utilising each other’s strengths.
She aspires to lead a youth SDP organisation in the future, and is working on developing a podcast to provide a platform to share best practice in SDP.
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