Hundreds attend Inaugural Youth Conference

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, September 26, 2018

History was created this morning as hundreds of young people from all 10 administrative regions in Guyana, gathered for the opening of the Inaugural National Youth Conference at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre.

Minister of Social Cohesion Dr. George Norton told the youths that they have been entrusted with “igniting meaningful conversations” that can spark positive change for themselves and their peers. The Minister said the government recognises that the individuals best suited to address the issues affecting youths are young people themselves.

“I encourage you to take your role as participants in this conference seriously and try your utmost to be vocal in all these discussions. The policymakers will be listening, we will be taking note of your concerns and we will also be paying keen attention to your recommendations, this is your opportunity” the Minister underscored.”

The participants were also assured that the government will continue to provide platforms to address the challenges they face, especially that of unemployment. Minister Norton highlighted that in 2018 the Department of Youth hosted a number of significant activities which have positively impacted young people across the country.

The Minister alluded to the Inaugural Youth Business Summit which provided young people with the tools and finance needed to either start or expand their business ventures; the Youth Innovation Programme that seeks to help young people address issues within their communities through STEAMS and the National Youth Award that rewarded youths for the work they have been carrying out in their communities.

“Things are being done in your best interest and we will continue to invest in the youths of this country because we know that for a fact, you are the key to Guyana’s increased prosperity and your value can never be overstated” Minister Norton stated.

Director of Youth Melissa Carmichael-Haynes said the conference serves to ensure that government carries out its mandate outlined in the national youth policy. Carmichael-Haynes pointed out that the development of Guyana depends largely on the development of the country’s youth.

Directly addressing the conference delegates the Youth Director said “… value each other’s comments and ideas, form youth bodies out of today’s and tomorrow’s activities, advocate for change in Guyana and advocate for continued development for young people.”

Several participants are of the opinion the conference will be impactful in terms of the knowledge they will gain to address problems with their communities.

Calvin Roberts representing Region Three is a youth ambassador, who recently represented Guyana at the Youth Assembly in New York. He commended the initiative. “We have here today, youths from all ten administrative regions and I think we will be able to discuss social issues and probably share information and possible solutions on how we can tackle some of these issues and we will be empowered and motivated to start our own NGOs.”

Krystal Thomas from Region Six said that she was amazed by the opening session and is looking forward to a wonderful conference. “So far it has been interesting and whatever I learn here I will be taking back to my community and advising the youths there. I also plan to establish a women’s empowerment group so this will be helpful.”

Today’s discussions were centred around the Sustainable development goals, the role of youth in democracy and governance and youth health and well-being. The theme for the conference is “Youth Perspective for Empowerment and Development for a Better Guyana.”

Isaiah Braithwaite.

Images: Keno George.

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