Deputy PM Richards fields a question at the Minister's Youth Forum.

Issues related to setting and achieving career goals, the expected outcomes of Youth Month 2019, youth activism on environmental matters, and assistance for young people with mental health challenges were some of the matters raised at the Third Annual Minister’s Youth Forum held Wednesday at the Ocean Terrace Inn.

The forum was a part of the month-long celebration of Youth organised by the Department of Youth Empowerment in St. Kitts every November. More than 130 persons between the ages of 12 and 29 from St. Kitts and Nevis attended the interactive forum.

Participants represented their respective secondary school, youth group, faith-based institution and other organizations. Individuals such as the reigning National Carnival and Talented Teen winners, contestants for the upcoming Carnival Queen Pageant, and young entrepreneurs, as well as several officers and residents at Her Majesty’s Prison also participated.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Tom Buchanan, welcomed participants, noting the annual discussion is one the government is proud to host as it serves to “enlighten us all as we expound on the topics and issues that are relevant and important to society.”

“More importantly, this event is an indication that the ministry, the honourable Minister of Youth, and the government recognize that our youth are capable of forming their own views and have the right to express them freely,” Mr. Buchanan said.  “… This is also an opportunity to engage the young people for ideas that will inform policy, programme design, implementation, delivery, and assessment on an ongoing basis. This is of critical importance to the ministry because we believe that effective youth policies come from conversations that are both horizontal or youth-to-youth as well as vertical or top-down or bottom-up in nature.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Youth, the Honourable Shawn Richards, echoed similar sentiments, saying officials were eager to engage the youth to “hear from you, to know what it is we are doing correctly, to know what it is you would like to see us do; how can we impact the lives of you the young people of St. Kitts and Nevis.”

The conversation also included ways members of the audience could help help to address some of the issues raised. To curb plastic pollution, for example, persons were encouraged to consider using less plastic in their daily.

Officials at the Department of Youth Empowerment said they were very pleased with the forum and the more than three hours of discussions on topical issues including climate change, public service, and opportunities to pursue higher education.

Acting Director of Youth Empowerment, Pierre Liburd, said exchanges such as the forum are ultimately the best way to advance youth development, with members of the public working together with the government, non-governmental organizations, and other agencies to promote action on the many challenges confronting young people around the world.