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CARICOM YOUTH AMBASSADORS RESPOND TO CHALLENGE

Twenty seven Caribbean youth leaders have been invested as Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Youth Ambassadors at the just concluded Regional Youth Explosion 2000 at the St George’s University Campus in St. George’s, Grenada (17-23 July, 2000) to take forward a goodwill mission for Youth empowerment in the regional integration process.

The cadre of youth leaders representing 13 Member States and the Associate Member State of the British Virgin Islands will spend the first three months mapping out a work programme for their three-year tour of duty which runs from August 2000 to July 2003. They are expected to make this their input into the wider regional programme of activities through the Community’s organs, first at the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD), and then on to the agenda of the supreme regional forum the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM with the likelihood of the Youth Ambassadors being represented at these fora to pilot their Community youth mandate.

Following the official installation to office on 17 July, 2000, the Youth Ambassadors sought to define their agenda and to lozat their thematic priorities and linkages with international partners in a one- day workshop at the St. George’s University Campus on 22 July, 2000. They reviewed the implementation of the 1993-95 Youth Ambassador Programme, and examined the issues, challenges and successes of that effort. A team of resource personnel representing a varied skills pool and youth interests interacted with the youth.

The Youth Ambassadors, in taking their oath of office, pledged “… to devote my strengths and energies to work for the greatest economic and social good of my country and region, and for its recognition as a zone of peace and dignity within the global system.”

The CARICOM Youth Ambassadors initiative is to mobilise the talents, energies and resources of young people and channel them into programmes promoting regionalism, integration and Caribbean unity. The cadre of Ambassadors will profile the Community model, and promote good citizenship; integrity; peer-bonding (sharing and caring); Caribbean culture and values; and respect for good governance.

The peer-leadership initiative was first mooted in 1993 when sixteen goodwill ambassadors were invested on the occasion of the Twentieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas in Saint Lucia on 4 July, 1993, to serve for a period of one year as peer-leaders in a “Youth-in-Focus” project to educate their peers about the regional integration movement; and in so doing, building a sense of “Caribbeanness”. The programme was subsequently extended and evaluated in 1995.

The reactivation of the Youth Ambassador Programme takes on board recommendations and experiences coming out of the earlier effort, and the cadre of Youth Ambassadors, now in post, will draw on these references in designing, implementing and evaluating their work programme.

The rights and responsibilities under the Charter of Civil Society are among the key areas which will engage the attention of the Youth Ambassadors as they seek to educate their peers about responsible citizenship.

This is one of the Programme areas in which the Youth leaders will actually be involved in designing, monitoring and evaluating youth education programmes to take forward their mandate.

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