Many young people in Belize have fallen victims to gun violence, others have joined gangs while others find themselves jobless. There have been several initiatives designed to attract young people and draw them away from crime. The latest initiative is “Belize Youth Mainstreaming Strategy Consultation brought out by the Department of Youth Services. Aida Escobar is the department’s Communications Officer; she noted that “mainstreaming” is a new concept.
Aida Escobar Communications Officer Department of Youth Services: “Basically it’s an all inclusive form of getting our young people’s attention, getting them heard and getting new opportunities for them and when I say all inclusive I mean we are looking at political aspects, we are looking at social aspects because we know that our young people are very social and we are looking at financial aspects that can all come together to help them. At the end of these three days we are going to be looking together at the year plan and we want to accomplish having youth mainstreaming become the norm in Belize. We want to see how we can reach out to our young people who aren’t getting equal opportunities and youth mainstreaming at the end gives us equity not only for our young people but for how our young people and our adults in Belize can work together to create a better Belize.”
The Minister of Youth, Patrick Faber, was also on hand for the launch and welcomed the new initiative.
Hon. Patrick Faber – Minister of Youth: “Any opportunity that we get to bring together the stakeholders in youth work is I think a very worthwhile one and on this occasion we want to thank the CARICOM Secretariat as well as the Commonwealth Secretariat for being present here in Belize to engage with our young people so that we can understand what are best practices in the region as well in the wider Commonwealth but more importantly for us to gather together our young people and the workers in youth work here so that they can chart a path forward to ensure that we have good quality youth work going on in this country.”
The “Youth Mainstreaming” is being funded by the Commonwealth Secretariat with Belize being the second country to launch this initiative.