Minister of Youth calls for scholarships for Parish Ambassadors Loop Barbados

The content originally appeared on: Barbados News

Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Charles Griffith wants to see the expansion of the Parish Ambassador programme to include greater rewards and scholarships for participants.

Speaking last Saturday, February 3, at the Community Independence Celebrations Secretariat’s Dinner and Awards, the Minister underscored the impact of the programme and spoke on his ministry’s vision for its future.

“I need to see things like scholarships being offered to persons who participate in this programme. The fact that you have impacted the community, the fact that you have impacted families as it relates to this particular programme, I think we need to move to a stage where the rewards are more than what we would have seen.

“I just want for that to be par for the course, to be standard going forward as it relates to the Parish Independence Committees, that we are able to offer scholarships to those persons who excel, the ambassadors who contribute in terms of that year-long programme and I think too that we are exploring other options as it relates to how we can make the programme even more relevant going forward,” he stated.

While he commended the team at the Secretariat, the Parish Independence committees (PIC) and ambassadors for their continued dedication, he challenged the PICs to consider succession planning to groom young people who can take over the management at the domestic levels. He also pledged governmental support to ensure the future success of the national programme.

“All the resources that I can harness within the ministry will be leveraged in this particular direction to strengthen those young people from the 11 parishes who decide, on a yearly basis, that they need to participate and give back to our country, give back to community, give back to families; it is absolutely important. I am driven by that,” he promised.

While making an impassioned appeal for greater rewards, the Youth Minister highlighted the benefit of the programme to Barbadian communities.

“One of the things that I want is the expansion of this programme where third-sector, where CEOs, community-based organizations get involved in the process of what we are doing with this particular programme. I have asked this year that the youth commissioners be involved again in an intimate way as it relates to helping the PICs with their programmes. This is a programme that we need to embrace, this is a programme that we need to strengthen and I promise…that every single thing will be done by government to ensure that we have continued success within this programme,” he stressed.

Some of those gathered for the Community Independence Celebrations Secretariat’s Dinner and Awards held at Sandals Barbados Resort

Commending the secretariat’s programme coordinator, Jessica Parris, and her team for their hard work, he indicated that the developmental aspect needed to be a focal point, going forward.

“I have seen over the years, the impact of this programme on the lives of individuals who participated and I am hoping this year that we can do a segment on ‘Where they are now’ that would highlight the things that are happening in the lives of persons who passed through this programme over the years. In terms of the developmental process…I need to see absolute growth in terms of individuals. I need for us to expand where we are going with that” the Minister stated.

Griffith made mention of his ministry’s ongoing work with the Employability Programme and stated that he wished to see all unemployed ambassadors involved. Speaking on the success of the Employability programme the minister said: “Ninety-five per cent of the persons who are involved in the programme elevated to the world of work.”

He also used the opportunity to encourage those ambassadors who were interested in becoming self-employed to take advantage of the facility of the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme.

The Minister went on to suggest that collaborating with community-based sporting groups would be a step in the right direction in ensuring the programme’s continued success and longevity.

“We need to keep it fresh; we need to ensure that we have persons who are knocking on the doors at the PIC to be involved in the process. I think one of the ways to do that is to embrace the community-based organizations. We have to reach out into the sporting sector and look at clubs that are functioning within the parishes to see if we can get them involved because I believe sports is one of the areas that you can use and infuse it into this programme to ensure that we can make our young people shine,” Griffith said.

Expressing that he wished to see fill the Sir Garfield Sobers gymnasium filled to capacity as it in previous years, the Minister revealed that there was a consideration on the table to adjust the age range to include younger people but he would be guided by the team in the Secretariat on this matter. He also made mention of the possibility of a National Volunteer Programme.

Minister Griffith reiterated his ministry’s commitment to the Community Independence Celebrations as well as the ongoing Parish Ambassador programme.  

“We need to empower young people in this country and to move our communities forward. This is one of the programmes that I need to pay special attention to…to ensure the success, to ensure there is continual growth in terms of those people who are involved in the process,” he stressed.