NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (August 13, 2018) — The following is an address by Hon. Eric Evelyn, Minister of Youth in the Nevis Island Administration on the occasion of International Youth Day 2018, which was observed on August 12, 2018.
Fellow citizens and residents, it is with great pleasure that I address you on this the occasion of International Youth Day which is being observed under the theme “Safe Spaces for Youth.”
In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 54/120 designated August 12th as International Youth Day with the first observance of the day being on August 12, 2000. The assembly recommended that awareness activities be organized on that day, under the guidance of the Word Programme of Action on Youth (WPAY).
International Youth Day aims to highlight the issues facing youth and to bring them to the attention of the international community, as well to celebrate youth and their potential as partners in our global society.
In November 2017, the first St. Kitts and Nevis Youth Policy was passed in parliament. This policy redefined the age of Youth in the federation as persons between the ages of 12 and 29. The lead agencies in the Federation for youth related matters are the Department of Youth Empowerment in St. Kitts and the Department of Youth in Nevis.
During the consultative process of the policy, one of the areas for attention which was identified was the importance of and need for safe spaces for youth. As such, the United Nation’s decision to celebrate International Youth Day 2018 under the theme “Safe Spaces for Youth” demonstrates that our young people are no different from their global counterparts and that even at the international level, the importance of safe spaces has been recognized.
Safe spaces can take several forms. They include public, civic, physical and digital spaces which allow young people to freely express themselves, to learn, to develop and to feel safe.
Civic safe spaces allow young people to participate in issues related to governance and to act as advocates for youth issues. Public safe spaces allow young people to participate in sports and other leisure activities within their communities. Digital safe spaces allow for young people to interact virtually on a local, regional or international platform. Physical safe spaces make provisions for young people who are vulnerable and make accommodations which reflect their needs.
As we look at the concept of safe spaces, we think of some of the areas in which we, as an island, provide safe spaces for our young people. We look at our sporting and performing arts facilities which are stellar public safe spaces, allowing our young people to explore their interests in a non-threatening environment.
We look at our civic safe spaces such as the ‘Youth Talks’ which give young people the opportunity to express themselves and to share their views on certain matters. We eagerly anticipate the upcoming Independence Youth Talk Forum which is being organized in observance of our 35th Anniversary of Independence.
Over the years, we have provided after-school programming for our young people. We also provide a number of short term physical safe spaces through our various camps. As such, we provide well-structured physical safe spaces. We will continue to work on this area as we see the need for increased efforts in the provision of physical safe spaces.
It is important for us to recognize that in order to maximize on our safe spaces, we must properly prepare persons who may function within the various safe spaces. As such, in observance of International Youth Day 2018, in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the Crime, Family and Youth Resilience Programme, will be hosting a two-day Social Crime Prevention Training for Community Youth on August 13th and 14th at the Albertha Payne Community Center.
The workshop will see 25 young persons who will have to interact with and lead other young people in various safe spaces being trained in Social Crime Prevention. While the international theme is “Safe Spaces for Youth,” our local theme is “Going Higher Places: We’re Creating Safe Places.”
In the near future, additional training will be given to other persons who work with young people to provide them with this very essential information.
As we reflect on the theme for International Youth Day, we applaud the efforts of the various stakeholders who have made sterling contributions to youth development and to ensuring that we have safe spaces for youth.
We think about the longstanding clubs and organizations which include but are not limited to the church based organizations and the community based organizations. We say a heartfelt thank you to the leaders who have, over the years, worked tirelessly to ensure that the various groups met and provided that safe space for our young people.
I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage our adults in society to support our youth and kindly do whatever you possibly can to foster safe spaces in which youth can operate in every facet of their lives. We must bear in mind that the creation of safe spaces heavily depends on us as adults.
To the youth, you must ensure that you create safe spaces for your peers and refrain from deviant behavior especially on social media. It must start with you to stop the abuse whether it be physical or social, bearing in mind that every youth deserves to operate in a safe space.
As I close, I would like to leave with you this quotation from the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres ‘The hopes of the world rest on young people. Peace, economic dynamism, social justice, tolerance – all this and more, today and tomorrow, depends on tapping into the power of youth”.
To the youth of the nation, Happy International Youth Day. To all, let’s embrace and support our youth and may God continue to bless us all.