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The channels for youth advocacy, discussion and mainstreaming at the highest level on issues impacting them, have been further enhanced with the establishment of the National Youth Parliamentary Committee Watch (NYPW).
An affiliate of the National Centre for Youth Development (NYCD), in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, the NYPW was established out of a recommendation by members of the 2008/09 National Youth Parliament who sat in Gordon House. The body will serve as a watchdog committee, focusing on reviewing Bills and policies tabled in Parliament, relating particularly to youth mainstreaming objectives, and critically evaluating them.
Addressing Thursday’s (November 5) launch at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices, Parliamentary Secretary, Senator Warren Newby, in endorsing the initiative, underscored the importance of incorporating Jamaica’s youth in the national development process.
Noting that more than 50 per cent of Jamaica’s young people fell below age 30, and that administrative policies being pursued would have the greatest impact on them, Senator Newby contended that, “it behooves us, therefore, to incorporate them into the development process to allow them to freely express their views. It is not a position that is adversarial, but one of collaboration and participation.”
“At the same time, we recognise that there has been a mindset in Jamaica that youth should be seen and not heard, and even though they are our largest constituent, it is very seldom that they are engaged in the policy-making process. That must change, and that can only change through advocacy by the young people themselves,” he argued.
While noting that the NYPW would operate as an independent body, Senator Newby committed the full support of the NCYD with which it is affiliated.
“Our commitment to you is that whatever support you desire, to fulfill your mandate, please feel free to call us and it will be done., because your voice must be unbridled in order to effect the changes that we all desire,” he said.
Chairman of the NYPW, Mr. Kamal Powell, spoke to the need for young people to “stand up and ensure that our voices are heard,” in light of prevailing global developments impacting Jamaica.
“One way to enable and encourage that the voices of the unattached youth in our communities are heard, is to employ participatory methods of decision making around issues that concern youth and nation building. Youth are not only the future of tomorrow, but we are the present and we should have a say in how our current leaders make decisions that define our future,” he contended.
In her remarks, the NCYD’s Director of Youth Policy, Ms. Roberta Brown Ellis, described the NYPW initiative as a “well needed one,” noting that youth inclusion and participation in national development was “absolutely critical.”
“I believe and have utmost confidence in the capability of the members of the committee, that they will be able to execute the task that they have at hand and that they will be able to carry out the mandate and the objectives of the Youth Parliamentary Watch. It could have come from no better source than the young people,” she said.
Opposition Spokesperson on Youth, Senator Basil Waite, in commending the initiative, urged the members to be active, balanced and constructive in their approach to dealing with the issues and areas of focus.
Other members of the Committee are: Vice Presidents, Paul McFarlane and Jerron Green; General Secretary, Melissa Simms; Treasurer, Jeffery Brown; Director of Public Relations, Kemesha Kelly; and Director of Internal Affairs, Teresa Thompson.

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