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The Caribbean Youth Explosion will be launched in Nassau, The Bahamas on Friday,18 September 1998 with a ceremony at the Nassau Marriott Hotel.

This unique event will involve more than 100 young people between the ages of 13 and 30 from Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Commonwealth Caribbean including Canada. With the theme “Making Choices, Taking Action”, the Explosion brings together the youth in a series of activities organised by the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP), the CARICOM Secretariat and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The three events are the Caribbean Youth Exchange, the Youth Assembly of Caribbean Community Parliamentarians (ACCP) and Workshop, and the CARICOM Youth Summit. The first two events are being held in The Bahamas while the Summit is being staged in Barbados.

Other international and regional organisations including the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Organisation of American States (OAS), and the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation in Agriculture (IICA) have assisted in making the programme possible while American Airlines has provided generous concessionary rates for the participants.

The first event is the 10-day Youth Exchange Programme run by the CYP from September 18-27, which will be held in The Bahamas on the family island of Eleuthera. The biennial Exchange will focus on Healthy Lifestyles with participants engaging in physical and mental activities designed to foster that theme and encourage the youths to advocate for such a lifestyle when they return to their communities.

Among areas to be explored on Eleuthera are Youth Empowerment; Health, including wellness, lifestyles, diet, sexual and reproductive health, environmental health and substance abuse; Sport and Physical Activity; Personal Development with emphasis on socialisation, gender relations, goal setting, anger and conflict management; Culture and Enterprise. A day will be set aside for Community Service on the island.

It is expected that at the end of the Exchange, a charter for developing Healthy Lifestyles among the Youth of the Caribbean and an Action Plan for participants to follow will emerge.

Following the Exchange, preparations will begin for CARICOM’s Youth Assembly of Caribbean Community Parliamentarians with a two-day workshop. The Youth (ACCP) is one of the main activities of the celebrations marking the 25th Anniversary of the Signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas which established the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM).

The Workshop begins in Eleuthera on September 28 and will end in Nassau at the House of Assembly the next day. The focus for the workshop will be the empowerment of youth and their role in a civil society. Facilitators include Ms Peta Ann Baker of the University of the West Indies, Mona Jamaica, Mr Michael Pintard of The Bahamas, former Commonwealth Youth Co-ordinator, Mr Ernest Hilaire of St Lucia, former head of the Caribbean Federation of Youth, Patrice la Fleur of the CYP and Ms Thelma Rodney-Edwards, Assistant General-Counsel of the CARICOM. Secretariat. Contributions will also be made by representatives of the IDB, OAS and IICA.

The Youth Assembly will take place on October 1 in Nassau and motions expected to be debated include, A Vision for the Caribbean in the 21st Century; the Role of Youth in Civil Society and Reproductive Health. Resolutions from the Assembly will go on to the three day Youth Summit which begins in Barbados on 5 October.

That Summit, under the auspices of the UNFPA, will focus on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights. This summit will give youth an opportunity to articulate their views on the dangers and challenges facing them in the area of sexual and reproductive health as well as to propose solutions to those problems. There have been national consultations on the issue and representatives at the summit are expected to put forward country positions.

A key outcome of this three week Explosion is expected to be follow up activity by participating youth in their home countries which would create a more effective network among Caribbean youth.

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