Fellow citizens and residents, it is my esteemed honour and privilege to address you as we celebrate the occasion of Youth Month 2013 here in our beloved Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. At this time, I share with all our nation’s youth that spirit of pride and gratitude of knowing that so critical are our young people to the future and the fortunes of this country that they have been granted that all important celebratory space in our annual calendar of activities and advancement as a nation.
The theme for this year’s Youth Month celebration, “Harnessing Youth Creativity and Passion for a Brighter Tomorrow”, provides a most fitting caption for the catalogue of contributions that our young people have made and continue to make towards the progress of our country.
Being a Federation and by extension, a member of a region where a significant section of the population comprises youth between the ages 15-29, there can be no doubt that one of the main tools for development lies in harnessing the creativity and positive energy of our young people.
It is our youth, with all their ideas and dynamism who are ideally suited to play a leading role in responding to many of the critical challenges of our time. Indeed, all across the Caribbean, there have been sterling examples of young people working hard to maximise their potential and harness their creativity and God-given talent for the development of our region.
In the area of athletics, Usain Bolt of Jamaica at age 21 became an Olympic record holder and Kirani James of Grenada at 18 a World Athletic Champion.
In politics and governance, the Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit at the ripe age of 31 ascended to the prestigious post of Prime Minister of Dominica, while the Hon. Menissa Rambally at just 21 became the youngest elected Member of Parliament on the island of St. Lucia.
In culture and pageantry, Dominican Leslassa Armour-Shillingford at age 19 continues to grace the regional and international stage with aplomb, not to forget the Hon. Lisa Hanna, now Minister of Youth and Culture of Jamaica, who was in 1993 crowned Miss World at just age 18.
But we need not even go as far as our sister islands in the Caribbean to discover such a bevy of talented young people. For right here within these fertile lands of Liamuiga and Oualie, we have been abundantly blessed with our own cadre of young shining stars. It is St. Kitts and Nevis which has gifted unto us the likes of West Indies cricketer Kieran Powell, Leeward Islands Calypso Monarch Konris Maynard and former World Athletic Champion Kim Collins; all of them having made their mark in various areas of human endeavour and risen to positions of prominence in the tender, yet fruitful years of their youth. To be sure, though young people are poised to inherit the world tomorrow, they have already positioned themselves to begin changing it today.
During this youth month, we have an opportunity to recognize the rich and varied skills which other young people in St. Kitts and Nevis possess. We have the opportunity to honour their commitment and dedication to helping their peers to harness their own creativity and potential.
Within the next few days, the 25 Most Remarkable Teens in St. Kitts and Nevis will be revealed and lauded for their perseverance, leadership, entrepreneurship, innovation and most of all, their service to community and country.
I take this opportunity to extend on behalf of the CARICOM Youth Ambassador Corps advanced congratulations to those 25 Remarkable Teens who will shortly be highlighted and honoured as part of this month’s celebration. It is my genuine and wholehearted belief that such a class of ambitious and accomplished young persons are an indication that all which is occasionally suggested to be wrong with the youth of St. Kitts and Nevis can be cured and negated by that which is consistently right about our young people here in St. Kitts and Nevis.
I wish also to commend all youth officers, youth workers, youth advocates and youth leaders throughout our Federation for the tireless work that you do in continually championing the cause of our young people.
It is my fervent hope that we will use the occasion of Youth Month 2013 to renew our commitment to our nation’s youth and to seek out new ways to create a space for them to actively participate and engage in the affairs of our nation.
To our young people – this is your time. Take ownership of the opportunities that are before you and let your creativity be seen, your passion emulated and your voices be heard!