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The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has named Kyla Gaynor as its 2021 Youth Ambassador.

Her tenure will begin in January and last for one year.

Miss Gaynor, a student of The Queen’s High School, was named as the Ambassador after winning the agency’s Hurricane Preparedness Digital Poster Competition, which was launched as part of efforts to engage young people in a new way, due to the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Director General at ODPEM, Leslie Harrow, told JIS News that naming a youth ambassador is part of efforts to continue the agency’s engagement with the winner of the poster competition.

“We believe that the youth are the ones to lead us as a nation and the fact that she came forward to enter a competition, we believe that we are not only to just engage youth for the competition, but that they can be better utilised in other areas. And, so for a young person her age, I am fully aware that she has a platform out there and we can use her to educate that cadre of persons and bring some amount of visibility on the social media platforms that are available to her,” said Mr. Harrow.

“Going forward, we will look at our other competition winners and engage them in a similar light,” he added.

The ODPEM Youth Ambassador is expected to share information relating to preparedness for natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, with her schoolmates and other young people.

“I feel honoured to be chosen to represent ODPEM as an ambassador. I feel like I can represent them well. I will use my social media platforms to inform others in my age group about the importance of preparing for natural disasters in order to stay safe,” said Miss Gaynor.

Meanwhile, Director of Information and Training at ODPEM, Delmares White, said that the ambassador will receive training similar to what is offered to volunteers in the Disaster Risk Management Volunteer Programme, “so that she will be more knowledgeable in some of the areas”.

She further indicated that the ambassador will also be exposed to All Hazards Training, which will enable her to “offer insights in terms of safety tips, preparedness information and just general information in terms of how to be aware of some of the hazards in your area at that age”.

The ODPEM digital poster competition was open to secondary students from 12 to 18 years of age.

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