Members of the United Democratic Party, along with officials from the Ministry of Youth and various media gathered at the Government Administration Building on Friday 30 September to launch the new National Youth Policy.
The plan, which was chiefly drawn up by Chairperson for the National Youth Policy Commission Mrs. Jenny Manderson, represents a change from past plans in that youngsters were allowed to participate in its formulation. Additionally, cross ministerial communication.
The policy provides the framework for youth to develop a strong cultural identity, as well as ensure confidence, leading to better outcomes socially and economically.
In his remarks, Premier McKeeva Bush told the audience that the lives of young men and women in the Cayman Islands have been shaped by our history. He pointed out that rapid population growth and development were factors which had to be considered when looking at our youth.
“Economic success, globalisation, and unfiltered international exposure has brought on cultural delusion and loss of identity,” said Mr. Bush, who added that the erosion of confidence in ones country and self have been the result of this rapid change.
The Premier said he would have liked to have seen more private sector representation at the launch, “as they too are stake holders in the future of Cayman.
“Youngsters cannot be left to find their own way. We want to do more than a normal government in this instance.”
Minister for Youth Mark Scotland said the policy was based around issues that were highlighted by young people, as “Young people have incredible insight into their own condition.”
The minister added that not only does the policy call for more collaboration between agencies and ministries, explaining that a committee on youth would enure this collaboration, as well as the distribution of funds.
As part of the new youth policy, a Behavioural and Education Support Team, which intervenes in situations where at risk youth are identified has been formed. Additionally, Passport2Success is another initiative that has been deployed in the fight for Cayman’s youth. That programme teaches youngsters skills that will help to make them employable; skills that we assume kids should be being taught at home, but in many cased they are not. V-Tech is yet another new programme that avails young people of mechanical skills and vocational training. A hospitality programme, sailing, rugby, football and boxing have also been identified as areas of interest for today’s young Caymanian.
An extensive research exercise consisting of historical background and data, as well as situational analysis was used to develop the policy.
Friday’s launch tied in with Caribbean Youth Day. This year’s slogan was, “One Caribbean, see the future through the eyes of our youth.”