Last night saw the launch of the 4th Caribbean Youth Leaders’ Summit at the Radisson Fort George Hotel in Belize City. With Belize being the host country for this year’s summit, the substantive Minister for Youth, Patrick Faber spoke of the importance of the event and the benefits of Belize being the host country as well as the advancements being made by the Department of Youth Services with special emphasis on the fact that the department is staffed mostly with young persons.
“It gives us a chance to of course expose what it is that we have been doing here in Belize as it relates to encouraging our young people but especially youth leadership. Belize I think is at an exciting point, we have done so much in the last few years with the passing of the national policy for youth, getting the youth council together across the country in fact we have now five councils and of course the national council so we see a lot of work now forming and I am very pleased of the work that is going on at the Department of Youth Services which is primarily lead by the young people. I recall last year when we had the National Youth Awards and I look forward to this year’s national youth awards it grows every time and we see so many talented young leaders in this country and so we get to showcase a bit of that over the next few days but we also get to see the talent that comes from all over our region.”
Also speaking at last night’s ceremony was the US Ambassador to Belize, Carlos Moreno. According to Ambassador Moreno, the US Embassy continues to support initiatives for young persons including leadership activities, educational initiatives, among others.
AMBASSADOR CARLOS MORENO
“It is and has always been a priority for our US government whether it’s through our Youth Ambassadors program, the YLA initiative or the 100,000 strong in the Americas program. In all of those ways I’m delighted really to have this opportunity to participate and to welcome this group. Their agenda 2030 “Framing Caribbean Youth Development from Rhetoric to action is so appropriate” I suffice it to say that the region does not offer enough opportunities for its young people who experience more crime, more unemployment, slower economic growth and discord. That said there have been some really significant major improvements in the lives of the youth in the past several years and in 2002 only 35% of the 20 to 24 year olds had received a secondary education. By 2012 that number was up to 60% so tremendous improvement. As young people have become more educated they have become more politically active and I’m sure in this group here there are number of you, you must vote and given the demographics of the Caribbean your votes if organized, if focused will have a great potential to promote change in the region and that is why we at the embassy support programs like this. Programs like this are powerful, they are important and frankly there are no easy answers for the problems that youth in the region face and I couldn’t agree more with Minister Faber that those solutions must come from you the young.”
The summit continues through to Friday, September 30.