You Ought to Know About…

Youth Week is an annual activity designed to shine the spotlight on our young achievers…and perhaps to remind us adults as well that no matter what the headlines say all is not lost re generation-next. Anyway, here’s an article I did re Youth Week 2013 which runs from September 27th to October 5th; the full programme is printed below that. If you happen to be in Antigua and Barbuda during this time be sure to participate!

Here’s an interesting bit of trivia, the Daryl George being interviewed in this piece is a past Wadadli Pen finalist:

Daryl George

Read his stories here.

Now here’s the article:

By Joanne C. Hillhouse

The Youth Department is gearing up for an active Youth Week, its annual programme designed to increase visibility of the work of the Department of Youth Affairs, and motivate both young people and adults to get involved with the work of, per this year’s theme, “building a stronger youth, a stronger nation”.

Asked about obstacles in the way of achieving that, Daryl George, a spokesperson with the DYA, spoke of the lack of education and skills and the need for training. Of course, some may question, as this reporter did, if this generation of youth doesn’t have more avenues to education than the generations before, and if some aren’t taking those opportunities for granted. But George countered that the problem is not with the young people, but with the lack of parental and community support. “Some young people don’t get that support from their parents,” he said, “school can only do so much.” He further argued, “How I see it, the people who don’t recognize the value of education are the people who don’t have any?” But isn’t it true, this reporter countered, that many from the generations before rose to middle class status or more because of working class parents who though possessing minimal education pushed their kids to achieve it because they realized the doors it could open; an indicator, certainly, that lack of formal education doesn’t equate to not valuing education. And isn’t it true that some of today’s parents are working sometimes two or more jobs, sacrificing contact time with their children, to make ends meet and provide quality education, only sometimes to see those children waste the opportunities?  If anything, this discussion, one that will likely continue during Youth Week, indicated that there is more complexity to the issue: all young people are not apathetic and all parents are not absent.

“You have young people who aren’t doing well and in some ways those are more visible,” George said, “but at the same time you have people doing better than ever before… (but) people in general tend to focus on the negative.”

Youth Week though is all about emphasizing the positive. The week begins on September 27th with a School Volunteer Initiative designed to create a sense of civic pride and awareness among young people. “The more people we have who are willing to make a small difference, the greater the impact will be,” George said. This project has not snowballed as yet, attracting participation from three schools last year – two doing clean ups and one doing a food drive – and only one so far this year. He remains optimistic though. “I believe we’ll get a few more people during the week,” George said. if you want to be a part of this, he said you can organize your own activity or contact the DYA (462-6781) to get on board with what they’re doing.

The Saturday after the opening there’ll be a fitness jam from House of Culture to Sir Vivian Richards Stadium with Insane Boot Camp, Sunday there’ll be a church service at Precision Centre, Monday you’ll likely here issues related to youth discussed on the media, and on Tuesday 1st October, there’ll be a Youth Parliament activity. The goal of the latter, George said, is to help young people understand how the process works – and perhaps the ways it really doesn’t work.

Actual work will be the focus of the next day’s activity, the National Youth Work Experience Day, on October 2nd. This has been a success story of Youth Week with 100 students each year interning with different types of businesses; getting a hands-on sense of what happens in a business environment and what will be expected of them when they too become a part of it. This begged another question though, are we preparing our young people to become worker bees only or are we putting any effort into engendering an enterprising spirit? George said that while they don’t have a comparative entrepreneurial programme for Youth Week, they have done such programmes at other times, two notable ones in the past couple of years.

One thing that remains a centerpiece of Youth Week, meanwhile, is the exhibition and health expo; that’s on the Thursday and will include displays, screenings, talks and more during the day at the Multipurpose Centre.

The last public activity is a new addition, Antigua’s Got Talent on October 4th. Normally, George said they have some kind of talent exposition, but this year the difference is that it’s competitive. Auditions are being held 1 to 3 p.m. this Friday and Saturday at House of Culture.

The week ends, Saturday 5th October, with a social evening for staff – and family and friends of staff – at the DYA.

The week, of course, is just that, a week, but George would like to see the community connect with the work of the DYA year round; “by participating, by asking to assist, by just being aware.” Be aware for instance that the Youth Awards comes up in December and they’ll need sponsorship to assist in feting outstanding young people as they do every year. George noted that the Department is understaffed and under-resourced and his wish, if he had one, would be for “triple the staff, double the budget”. Short of that, community involvement could make a difference; and Youth Week is a good place to start. “In general, if you’d like to help out in any way – time, resources, contribution – that is always appreciated,” George said.


Here’s the programme as sent out by the Department of Youth Affairs more than a week ago (there may be changes):

  1. Friday 27th      September -School Volunteer      Initiative “Yes, We Can, spearheaded by the National      Youth Ambassador Corps. Schools will engage in volunteer activity on this      day. The DYA is also encouraging others to engage in some volunteer      activity on this day. Please register this activity with the DYA.
  2. Saturday 28th September      …National Fitness Jam You are specially invited to share in this      activity The Route- Dredgers  to the      Stadium via Friars Hill  and Pigotts      roads You are encourage to make this a staff activity. Please call the DYA      to confirm your participation. .
  3. Sunday 29th September      …..Official opening to the Week. Church service at precision centre at      4pm. Please accept a special invitation for you and your team to join us      in this service of praise and thanksgiving.
  4. Monday 30  September …Media Day
  5. Tuesday 1st      October ….Youth Parliament
  6. Wednesday 2nd October…National Youth Work Experience Day. Students will receive internships for the day. The Department is partnering with a number of public and private enterprises who have provided ‘jobs’ for the day. It is expected that students will be given this time away from the school, but will not be recorded as being absent. Here, schools are asked to select 4 or 5 interested 4th and 5th formers to participate
  7. Thursday 3rd      October..National      Youth Exhibition & Health Expo at the Multipurpose Cultural Centre.       9am to 6pm. This activity is intended to showcase youth talent as well as to promote the notion of healthy living. Schools are invited to participate in the exhibition by mounting exhibits as well as sending delegations to view the exhibition and to participate in the numerous activities. Activities planned will include: health talks/discussions, screenings, mini gym, work our sessions, demonstrations. There will be a special Youth Forum at 3pm and a Grand Finale closing Zumba session! A special invitation is extended for you to attend this exciting event.
  8. Friday 4th October–Youth Got Talent

Imagine! An evening of clean fun! Young people will come out to display and share their many talents at the Multipurpose Centre, from 7pm. Come and be wowed!

Saturday 5th  October… Social Evening at the Department of Youth Affairs. Pot luck style! bring a pot and come!

Should you need more information or further or clarification, please call the Department of Youth Affairs, 481-5314, or 462-6781 or email at






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