BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, October 18, 2017 (PLP PR Media Inc.) — It was 105 of the nation’s children, beautifully decked in marching blue T-shirts and khaki pants. They mesmerised the nation when they appeared for the first time marching along with the more experienced armed and unarmed bodies at the 34th Independence Day Parade at Warner Park.
Unlike other years, this year’s Independence Day Parade was held on Saturday October 7 instead of the usual September 19 which is the actual Independence Day due to the passage of Hurricane Maria on Independence Day. The hurricane did not dampen the spirits of those who love their country as they turned out in their numbers on October 7.
Everyone who attended the Independence Day Parade from the Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris, to the visiting dignitaries, to the patriotic nationals who wore national colours as a mark respect for the event pointed out that the star attraction on the parade was the 105-member strong Mol-Phil Explorers Youth Club.
The question many asked was: Who are these Mol-Phil Explorers? A few people at the park knew who they were because they were either relatives of the children taking part in the parade or were people from the Molineux and Phillip’s area in Constituency Number Seven from where the children hail.
Following that phenomenal success, they on Saturday October 14 assembled at their ‘home’ ground, the Phillip’s hard courts where they usually hold all their meetings, and were feted by the Scotiabank Kiddies Cricket Programme through the Department of Sports, and the St. Kitts and Nevis Football Association (SKNFA).
It was such a big day for the children who captured the heart of the nation, as among those present were Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris, National Security Advisor Major General Stewart Sanders, Assistant Commissioner of Police Andre Mitchell, Assistant Commissioner of Police Merclyn Hughes, Crime Reduction Specialist Dr Neals Chitan, and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Mr Osmond Petty.
Prime Minister Harris, who is also the Minister of National Security and the Area Parliamentary Representative, in congratulating them said they were the participating group at the Independence Day Parade that most persons extended congratulations and commendation.
“Theirs was the largest group participating in our National Independence and they did so beautifully, representing Phillips’, representing Molineux, representing all young people so very well,” commented Dr Harris.
Founder of the group, Inspector Rosemarie Isles-Joseph observed that the group was formed on Saturday June 24 as a National Security initiative that is part of the National Crime Reduction and Prevention Strategy targeting young people. It initially targeted children 5-17 years old but currently its membership has some as young as four, and as old as 19. On the parade was a member who was 21 years old.
According to Inspector Isles-Joseph, training for the drills started one week after the club’s formation and would continue every Saturday that they would hold meetings, and she says that it was not an easy task. However, close to Independence Day Parade they started practising at the Warner Park.
“It was not easy but eventually they got it,” said Inspector Isles-Joseph. “I normally tell them: drill is ‘left-right, left-right’, but even if your foot goes ‘right-left’, once you swing your hands, you look nice. So that is what I used to try to get in – swing your hands. Some children joined the club maybe about a week before the parade. Those who came late, I told them just swing your hands.”
She noted that members of the Community Policing Team, which she heads, would come to assist in the drill training. Playing a pivotal role in the training were Sargent Shorna Francis-Edwards who deals with drills at the Police Training School, and Officer Lauston Percival who used to come to the park to assist with the drills.
Wowing the crowds at Warner Park, and along the streets of Basseterre as the Mol-Phil Explorers Youth Club contingent marched to Government House from Warner Park, was the leader of the group 16-year-old Britney Roberts, a Visual Communication and Information Technology student at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC).
The young leader with a trademark broad smile explained that she decided to join the club because it has many opportunities and it inspires young people to excel and become more responsible persons in the society. She noted that what is instilled in them would help them achieve their goals both for the present and the future.
“I was the leader, the one who gave them the commands like when going around the corner I would give them the command of ‘eyes right’,” said Ms Roberts. “I have marched with different groups over the years from since I was small. I made sure I did not miss any step. They, 105 in all, were very well disciplined and took my commands very well.”
This media talked to a resident of Phillip’s who is a mother and grandmother of some of the members of the Mol-Phil Explorers Youth Club who participated in the parade. According to Ms Sylvia Morris-Johnson, “formation of Mol-Phil Explorers Youth Club is the best thing that has happened to the village of Phillip’s”.
“I went to the Independence Day Parade at Warner Park and I loved it,” said the mother of a daughter and two grandsons who are club members. “It was a blast! I feel so happy, so overwhelmed I feel good, because the children them performed so well. I could not believe my eyes, I felt like I was on Cloud Nine.”