CARICOM Seeks to Empower Youth Across the Region


Young people throughout the region are meeting in Jamaica for a special four-day conference to review the achievements of the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors Programme on specific issues such as HIV and AIDS, advocacy of the CARICOM Single Market & Economy (CSME) as well as the reduction of other youth risk and vulnerability factors.
The meeting of CARICOM Youth Ambassadors and the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development concludes today (Aug.10) at the Mona Visitors Lodge at the University of the West Indies (UWI). It is co-ordinated by Dr. Heather Johnson, Deputy Programme Manager for Youth Development at the CARICOM Secretariat.
Presenters include UWI lecturers, Dr. Barbara Braithwaite and Professor Barry Chevannes; Attitude Shift Specialist, Dr. Soeresh Gobardhan; Communications Specialist, Dorrett Campbell, and representatives of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP). The CARICOM Youth Ambassadors Programme and the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development, are part of the CARICOM Youth Programme, which was established by Caribbean heads of Government in consideration of the important role, which must be played by the youth in regional and national development.
The programme also comprises a network of youth empowerment officers across the Caribbean known as the CARICOM Youth Focal Points. The Youth Ambassador Programme seeks to empower young people across the Caribbean to assert themselves within the regional community maximizing the benefits of the CSME. Youth Ambassadors are appointed nationally on an annual basis and serve CARICOM for approximately two years. They must be between the ages of 16 and 25 and very active and influential in their home, community and country. Their primary functions are to promote the CSME; interface with other youth across the region with a view to promoting healthy lifestyle management and reducing vulnerability and risk factors; participate in the decision making processes of their countries even at the highest level, thus representing the interest of their peers.
The CARICOM Commission on Youth Development was launched on March 5, 2007 to undertake research on Caribbean Youth, with a view to making recommendations to the Conference of Caribbean Heads of Government on a regional strategy for youth empowerment, participation and development.
Its membership comprises 15 commissioners, six of whom are technocrats and nine youth representing several Caribbean countries. The Commission is jointly chaired by Prof. Chevannes of Jamaica and Yidiz Beighle of Suriname, where it was launched. The President of Suriname is the CARICOM sector leader for youth.

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