NASSAU, The Bahamas – The elected and appointed leaders of The Bahamas seek the input of the Junior Parliament for the creation of a national development plan for youth that would drive the overall growth of the nation, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture the Hon. Charles Maynard said, on October 22, 2010.
“We seek the advice of the Junior Members of these Honourable places on ways by which we can mitigate criminal activity and what can be done to counteract the results of crime and violence,” Minister Maynard said in the Senate Chamber, during a joint session of the Lower and Upper Houses, commemorating the opening of the 10th National Youth Parliament of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
Among those present for the event were Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance the Hon. Zhivargo Laing, Speaker of the House of Assembly the Hon. Alvin Smith, Member of Parliament for Elizabeth Ryan Pinder and Vice President of The Senate Sen. the Hon. Johnley Ferguson.
Minister Maynard thanked Parliament, on behalf of his Ministry, for its support of the annual initiative, which is a signature activity of National Youth Month.
“For the Honourable House of Assembly, this partnership, which extends well over 10 years, is one that is cherished and appreciated,” Minister Maynard said. “Today, we wish to expand our mock parliamentary procedures to foster a greater participation of youth and to support the execution of a mock parliament in its truest form.
“I am, therefore, pleased this year to collaborate with the President and Honourable Members of the Senate for the inclusion of a mock Senate seating. We look forward to this continued collaboration.”
Minister Maynard said that this year under the theme, “Celebrating Youth … Get Involved 242”, his ministry leads the celebration of National Youth Month while paying tribute to a “time-honoured tradition of people helping people and simply getting involved”.
“This year we feature youth organisations and the outstanding work of youth development workers and other volunteers who are at the heart of implementing development strategies,” he said. “We are indeed indebted to them and recognise that it is only sustained volunteerism that will keep us moving forward as a country, especially considering these challenging economic times.”
Minister Maynard placed before the members of the Junior Parliament the “crime crisis” for debate and requested that a suitable resolution be tabled considering the topic “What impact would crime have on the development of our country, and what can the government do to mitigate criminal activity, and guide national development in this regard”.
He called to their attention to the issues of crime and violence, which, he said, continues to perplex the development agenda of the government and civil society.
It may be argued that it has not been as prevalent in the past, as it is now, he added. It would seem as though violence and criminal activity is the order of the day, Minister Maynard said.
“The reality of the outstanding achievements of young people is often clouded by the negative activity by a few of their peers,” Minster Maynard said.
He said that Bahamian youth constitute a significant percentage of the country’s population and, unfortunately, police statistics reflect that many perpetrators and victims of violent crime are young people.
“This unhealthy reality is disturbing because if we are to grow as a country we need the young people to take responsibility for the sustained progress of this great nation,” Minister Maynard said. “Successive governments have taken steps to prepare the country for our youth. Many young people are not taking advantage of the opportunities afforded them through education and personal development.”
Minister Maynard said there are a number of questions that can possibly be answered by the youth taking part in the initiative.
“What can we do to encourage change? How can we redirect the ways of expressions of our youth? How can we create a new mind set amongst young people? How can we foster a better conflict resolution?” he asked. “These are all pertinent questions that we believe, if answered, will assist my government in the development of a new national agenda where youth are concerned.”
By ERIC ROSE
Bahamas Information Services