By Stanford Conway

The Observer

After some 10 years of dormancy the St. Kitts National Youth Council, under a new name – Sugar City Youth In Action (SCYIA) – is back on track.

SCYIA was officially launched two Saturdays ago in McKnight outside the building which formerly housed the Women’s Training Centre.

According to the youth organisation’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) and Adviser, Mutryce Williams, the building would now be used as SCYIA’s headquarters after some minor repairs, which would be funded by the Peace Corps and the AIDS Project, BITE, among others.

The event also realised the launching of the organisation’s Strategic Plan for 2005-2010, which includes Vision for the SCYIA, Reports on initiative to revive the St. Kitts Youth Committee, Excerpts from National Youth Policy, Crime and Socialisation, Education, Health and HIV/AIDS, Economics and Employment, Youth Adult Partnerships and a number of developmental projects.

The PRO intimated that in keeping with the Copenhagen Youth Declaration adopted at the World Summit on social development, the World Programme for youth to the year 2000 and beyond, endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in November 1996, the remaining members of the Steering Committee for the National Youth Council recommended that a recommitment be made towards the re-establishment of the NYC.

She noted that the NYC should be the collective voice of young people in St. Kitts and must include all regardless of sex, race, religious beliefs, geographical location, occupation or political preference and, “the Steering Committee should represent the wide range of diverse youth in St. Kitts.”

The PRO said that despite the annual EC$5,000 the Government would give in support of the NYC, the organisation would still be faced with several challenges including mobilisation of resources.

She suggested that the Government and all other social partners should commit themselves to providing adequate office space, which was already acquired, and at least one paid officer to perform administrative duties.

In delivering the feature address, Assistant Secretary of International Trade Deidre Daniel urged the executive body of the SCYIA to seek ways in widening the organisation’s membership.

“With Regional Integration on our doorsteps, St. Kitts and Nevis and other Caribbean nations will be now embracing new cultures, ideas and residents. It is by this end that I urge the new executive of the council to look into the widening of our membership structure.

“Bear in mind, from next year, we will not only be representing Kittitian youth but young talented Caribbean citizens, who operate under the CSME. It is my belief that they too must have a national body representing their issues and challenges. Therefore, membership to all non-nationals to the council with the full right of voting at general and annual meetings of the council would indeed be a proactive step,” Daniel said.

The former Federation’s CARICOM Youth Ambassador and youth development advocate opined that 2006 would be a prosperous but challenging year for the council and advised that the organisation’s agenda should seek to address specific needs and issues confronting the nation’s youth.

“More than ever before in the council’s history,” she added, “it is now faced with the challenge of ensuring that the youth of St. Kitts and Nevis are adequately represented at the highest level of voluntary service, at a time where phenomena such as globalisation, trade liberalisation and an ever-growing global moral decline affect the very traditional and patriotic way of life we as Kittitians and, by extension, CARICOM citizens have become accustomed to enjoy.”

Daniel further urged the council to address the dilemma of the dying love for volunteerism in St. Kitts, noting that it would be an arduous task without foot-soldiers working on the ground, addressing the social and economic needs of the nation’s youth.

She advised that the strengthening of existing community groups should be high on the agenda to combat that situation, by hosting a series of monthly comprehensive institution/community building programmes ranging from public speaking and information technology courses to economic empowerment and global market preparedness.

The Assistant Secretary of International Trade also suggested that the church should be called upon to join in the fight for the holistic development of the nation’s youth.

“We, as young people, believe we cannot do it alone and the church must take up its role as the premier spiritual institution in St. Kitts. Lest we forget that if God has given you a task to accomplish and it has been neglected, an account has to be given,” Daniel said.

She commended the council for its initiative and advised its members to always be at the forefront of ensuring that the concerns and aspirations of the nation’s youth were championed.

“You are and must be the voice of this country’s young people,” declared Daniel.

Among the small gathering that attended the launching ceremony were the Minister of National Security, Immigration, Justice and Labour, the Hon. Dwyer Astaphan, and Director of Youth Jeffrey Hanley.