JIS News

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says the mental health and fortitude of the country’s young people have been tested during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The greatest victims of COVID-19 are our young people. Education has been severely [affected],” he pointed out.

The Minister said it is critical that the conversation be had about the impact of COVID-19 on youngsters and their mental health, and it is for this reason that the topic was included in Jamaica’s discussion at the recent Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and the Caribbean.

“I said Jamaica must speak about the experience of our young people, who have suffered because of COVID-19 where their education has been derailed. So COVID-19 and its effect on education and young people was to be a critical part of that conference,” he noted.

Minister McKenzie was addressing the Local Government and Community Month 2021 Youth Mayors’ Forum at the Trelawny Municipal Corporation in Falmouth on Wednesday (November 24).

The forum saw participation from youth mayors and deputy mayors representing Jamaica’s 14 parishes.  Their presentations highlighted topics such as mental health, gang violence, disaster risk reduction, education, COVID-19, climate change and more.

Minister McKenzie commended the youth participants, noting that they have not only shown a grasp of the issues plaguing the country but have suggested measures to address them.

He noted that having listened to the discussions, he is full of hope for the country’s future.

Minister McKenzie said the forum was “the most outstanding” one yet and the recommendations will be taken and explored further.

“This Government is not lost in accepting and recognising that young people are going to be trailblazers [because] what you all need is for people to believe in you, to understand and to respect your views,” Mr. McKenzie pointed out.

Youth Mayor for Falmouth, Ramona Hastings, urged every Jamaican to play their part at the local level to contribute to nation-building.

“For local government to be the medium by which we build back stronger, it is not just about the Minister working hard to get things done. Local government includes all of us from the mayors, councillors, civil servants, students, vendors, taxi operators, and I can go on. We all have a role to play in the building plan process,” she said.

Local Government and Community Month 2021 is being celebrated under the theme ‘Local Government at the Forefront of Building Back Stronger’.

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