Today as a Caribbean people, we pause to recognize, celebrate, and cherish the accomplishments and indelible contributions of young people across the region. For almost four decades, today, the 30th of September has been observed as Caribbean Youth Day with this year’s celebrations held under the theme “Adding Global Value Taking Charge of Our Future.”
Across the globe, Governments have finally begun placing an emphasis on strengthening young people and therein preparing them for their roles as leaders. Additionally, never before have we seen, with such great magnitude, multitudes of young people rising up and agitating for myriads of issues ranging from climate change to health advocacy, equal access to education, mental health, employment opportunities and good governance. It is the power of these voices that prove that no longer should young people be prepared to take up leadership roles tomorrow, but rather be empowered to lead, train, mentor, guide and advise today, for our time is now! Within our Latin America-Caribbean region statistics show that almost 20% of the population comprise youth. The question must be asked then what measures have our Government, Society and people taken to ensure that these youth are equipped to take charge of their future? The sustainability and survival of our nation hinge on unlocking the potential of each child so that they can add meaningful value to the nation by defying the odds and challenges they face and rising to unimaginable heights.
Today, we have the chance to chart the course for our region’s future. I implore our Government, Civil Society, Educators and Religious Bodies to truly place an emphasis on developing our young people. Frankly, the time for banter and babble is over. Now is the time to prepare our youth to use their skills and God-given abilities to impart change, lead, agitate and succeed so that they can truly add meaningful value to our nation, region and our globe. However, the task also lies with each of us to rise up and take hold of the opportunities before us. Volunteer, learn, share, donate and prepare; participate in clubs and edify yourselves to be ready for anything that may come your way. It is this key preparation and this key edification that will properly position all young people to add value to their communities now and allow us to take charge of the future before us. For in the words of Malcolm X, “the future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”