“Youth Not Just Our Fu­ture, But Our Present!”

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Kayra Wil­liams

One must al­ways grab a hold of op­por­tu­ni­ties when they arise, par­tic­u­larly those with po­ten­tially lifechang­ing merit. That was the gen­eral con­sen­sus of mem­bers of the Youth Emer­gency Ac­tion Com­mit­tee (YEAC) at a re­cent Project Over­view en­gage­ment held at the Pas­toral Cen­tre in Marisule. At­tend­ing the event were stu­dents from the Saint Joseph’s Con­vent, En­tre­pot Sec­ondary School and Bocage Sec­ondary School.

Spe­cially in­vited guests in­cluded Mon­signor Pa­trick An­thony and Mar­cia Hay­wood, Re­gional Co­or­di­na­tor for CARITAS An­tilles. In a spir­ited fea­tured ad­dress Hay­wood un­der­lined the ways YEAC con­tin­ued to en­gage young peo­ple as lead­ers in a process of com­mu­nity risk re­duc­tion, train­ing com­mu­nity mem­bers in dis­as­ter pre­pared­ness, mit­i­ga­tion, and man­age­ment, as well as im­ple­ment­ing haz­ard risk mit­i­ga­tion ac­tiv­i­ties.

In her words their train­ing en­tailed “more than just in­for­ma­tion, more than CPR, more than first aid”; it was about char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment.

“That was the key, I think, to see­ing the suc­cess that we had,” Hay­wood said. “I’m very proud to stand here and say we have a great team of young peo­ple, some of whom a lot of peo­ple didn’t be­lieve in. I’d like to say to them that we be­lieved in you. This is why we con­tinue to do this project and many oth­ers through­out Saint Lu­cia, and other is­lands in­clud­ing Gre­nada and Ja­maica."

The YEAC project was first im­ple­mented in Saint Lu­cia in 2011 and since then has been ex­tended year after year, ac­cord­ing to Hay­wood, be­cause of its con­tin­ued level of suc­cess.

“We are ac­tu­ally work­ing on an ex­ten­sion to 2018, so it’s re­ally be­cause of the fruits of hard work of our mem­bers,” she said. “With­out ded­i­ca­tion, with­out com­mit­ment, with­out be­liev­ing in what you do in any as­pect of life, whether it’s mar­riage, whether it’s your education, what­ever you do, you need those tenets to make it work.”

As the stu­dents looked on Hay­wood talked about how YEAC had come into ex­is­tence: a joint ini­tia­tive with Catholic Re­lief Ser­vices, with sup­port from USAID/OFDA and in part­ner­ship with CARITAS.

“We looked at where the gaps were,” she said, adding that the fo­cus had been on un­at­tached youth. “When you see the term, that’s what it means,” she added. “Youth who were not in any young group, with no par­tic­u­lar af­fil­i­a­tion. Young peo­ple that no one was re­ally work­ing with.”

To­day, she said, the project was touch­ing the lives of peo­ple who could pos­i­tively im­pact the lives of oth­ers.

“You might be the re­cip­i­ent of as­sis­tance from one of these mem­bers, be­cause they have been well trained,” she said. “Not just trained in the CPR, but in just be­ing hu­man.”

At this week’s en­gage­ment, Hay­wood re­minded her au­di­ence that the youth were not just our fu­ture, but our present. At her turn on the podium, An­gel Ernest, Project Pro­moter for YEAC ex­pressed: “Our work is a labour of love; love of self, love of com­mu­nity, and love of coun­try. It is my plea­sure to work with all of these mem­bers who are de­voted, self­less and re­mark­able.”

Plans for 2017 for the Com­mit­tee in­clude out­reach pro­grammes at lo­cal sec­ondary schools, and other ini­tia­tives with a goal of in­creas­ing the par­tic­i­pa­tion of youth from around the is­land.

Some of the mem­bers of the Youth Emer­gency Ac­tion Com­mit­tee at this week’s Project Over­view meet­ing.

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