‘A mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion’

Youth Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil now a re­al­ity

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Syranno Baines Gleaner Writer syranno.baines@glean­erjm.com

SIX­TEEN OF Ja­maica’s sharpest young minds were yes­ter­day of­fi­cially tasked with serv­ing the first Youth Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil of Ja­maica (YACJ) dur­ing its in­au­gu­ral in­stal­la­tion cer­e­mony.

The cer­e­mony was held at the Of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter in St An­drew.

The YACJ is in­tended to fa­cil­i­tate the con­tin­u­ous en­gage­ment of young peo­ple in youth devel­op­ment pol­icy and pro­gram­ming ac­tions of the govern­ment.

It is also be­ing co­or­di­nated with the in­tent of fa­cil­i­tat­ing di­a­logue be­tween young peo­ple and all Govern­ment of Ja­maica min­istries.

The cri­te­ria com­prise a di­verse mix of vol­un­tary ser­vice to coun­try, knowl­edge of govern­ment, ex­pe­ri­ence in youth and pol­icy devel­op­ment, and en­trepreneur­ship.

Michele Small Bart­ley, se­nior di­rec­tor of youth and ado­les­cence pol­icy, out­lined the te­dious se­lec­tion process in giv­ing her over­view of the coun­cil.

Small Bart­ley said more than 150 qual­i­fied ap­pli­cants sub­mit­ted bids for mem­ber­ship.

Both private- and pub­lic-sec­tor rep­re­sen­ta­tives aided in short­list­ing can­di­dates via panel in­ter­views.

Upon com­ple­tion of the in­ter­views, the even­tual 16 prospects man­aged scores above 80 per cent, lead­ing to their ap­point­ment to the panel.

The age bracket of the coun­cil is set at 18-29 years. The cur­rent coun­cil spans 18-26 years of age and mem­bers are given two-year tenures.

Speak­ing with The Gleaner about the ini­tia­tive, Small Bart­ley said: “Gone are

the days that the youth have no voice. This will help us to con­cre­tise youth par­tic­i­pa­tion and en­gage­ment in the na­tional de­ci­sion mak­ing process.”

Don­ning his ‘Youth­ful Prime Min­is­te­rial’ cap, An­drew Hol­ness de­liv­ered a charis­matic charge to the coun­cil, stat­ing that “en­ergy, in­no­va­tion & op­ti­mism” are key com­po­nents to the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process. He fur­ther em­pha­sised Govern­ment’s com­mit­ment to the move­ment.

Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion Ruel Reid, in his ad­dress, stated: “In the mem­bers of this ad­vi­sory coun­cil, we have the best of en­ergy, cre­ativ­ity, com­mit­ment and vi­sion.”

He fur­ther said: “We have rea­son to

cel­e­brate as the coun­cil is be­ing launched in a time when we are faced with an avalanche of neg­a­tives.”

DI­RECT CHAN­NEL TO IN­FOR­MA­TION

Floyd Green, min­is­ter of state in the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, Youth and In­for­ma­tion, told The Gleaner: “It is a mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion. It gives young peo­ple a di­rect chan­nel to in­flu­ence poli­cies and pro­grammes that im­pact them.”

He fur­ther added: “It also gives the Govern­ment an op­por­tu­nity to call upon some of our best and bright­est young peo­ple as ad­vis­ers.”

YACJ Chair­man Aubrey Ste­wart, 23, told The Gleaner: “I plan to lead from a trans­for­ma­tional per­spec­tive. It’s an in­clu­sive agenda, young peo­ple in ru­ral and ur­ban spa­ces, young peo­ple on the street, young peo­ple in agri­cul­ture. We be­lieve that we rep­re­sent the voice of young peo­ple. We have been fight­ing for years to ad­vance youth in­ter­est and now we have the plat­form to ex­er­cise that in­ter­est, and we will not let our young peo­ple down.”

When asked if there’s any added pres­sure in be­ing the first chair­man of the coun­cil, he said: “No, I do have a sup­port­ive team, and sup­port from com­mu­ni­ties, or­gan­i­sa­tions and youth par­lia­men­tar­i­ans. Once we set our minds to it, the work shall be done.”

He also asked young per­sons to “roll out, be a change and get ready for what’s about to come”.

The YACJ made re­cent pre­sen­ta­tions in Par­lia­ment on four key ar­eas and will be tar­get­ing same dur­ing their ten­ure, namely: Cli­mate Change, Youth Un­em­ploy­ment, Psy­choso­cial Care for Stu­dents and Sex­ual and Re­pro­duc­tive Health.

It is a mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion. It gives young peo­ple a di­rect chan­nel to in­flu­ence poli­cies and pro­grammes that im­pact them.

GLADSTONE TAY­LOR/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Prime Min­is­ter An­drew Hol­ness (cen­tre) takes a selfie with the newly in­stalled mem­bers of the Youth Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil dur­ing the in­au­gu­ral in­stal­la­tion cer­e­mony held yes­ter­day at the Of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter in St An­drew.

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