Youth organize for New Year

This year looks to be one where
young people take action in Cayman.

The newly re-appointed and expanded
National Youth Commission recently met with government officials to outline
plans for 2010.

Hosting the meeting was Youth Minister
the Honourable Mark Scotland along with Ministry Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn
and Senior Policy Officers Janet Flynn and Joel Francis. Youth Commission Chairperson
Jenny Manderson was present along with the group’s 20 members.

Welcoming the youth stakeholder
group, especially the new members, Minister Scotland said their new mission is
to help steer young people “towards a brighter future than we have seen in
recent times.”

The main role of the commission is
to research and advise on youth issues, while monitoring the on-going youth programmes.

Pledging that government will
continue to keep youth issues on the “front burner,” Mr. Scotland stated the
commission could give government great feedback.

“The combination of talents which
you bring from a cross-section of society and the different disciplines represented
should yield positive results.”

The commission comprises of educators,
community leaders and members of non-governmental organisations. Also on the
council are agencies such as the National Drug Council and the Royal Cayman Islands
Police Service.

Several students and other young
people, as well as representatives from the Sister Islands,
also serve on the revised council.

Mrs. Manderson thanked Minister Scotland for
placing youth issues high on the list of priorities. She went on to say that
many issues can be eventually tackled by the commission.

“There are so many concerns and
this committee will have an important role in seeing that all youth issues are
addressed appropriately,” she said. “There are so many concerns, but with this
committee we should be able to achieve much.”

For the record the commission came
into existence nine years ago. Among its biggest initiatives is the National
Youth Assembly.

To help guide the commission a report
which compiles all recent research and findings relating to youth was presented
to its members. The National Youth Policy itself is also in the process of
being reviewed and will soon be finalised.

The commission’s terms of reference
are also being revised and the members are to be assigned to sub-committees
dealing with youth development, youth welfare and youth affairs.

Key youth concerns are identified
as crime and violence, education issues and drug abuse. In keeping with these,
the commission’s current priorities are to refine its action plan, to lead an
audit of all youth services and to develop a youth index to evaluate the status
of young people as well as the effectiveness of programmes.

All of those concerns make Mr.
Scotland feel the youth and government can work together. 

“Government spends a tremendous
amount of funds across several departments on youth development. However, there
needs to be closer monitoring and coordination, even within the districts.” 

While the commission has traditionally
focused on teens and young adults, Mr. Scotland urged the group to focus more
attention on children under ten years of age.

He said that this will allow
decision-makers to identify behaviour patterns early and to enable a smoother
transition from child to adult. 

LOCALyouthSTORY

The meeting attracted a lot of young people.
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