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-to empower youths, harness their ability to impact their peers
DPI – The Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, on Thursday, launched its ‘Young Influencers’ programme to prepare youths to make a difference within their communities and among their peers.
The one-year programme, which was launched at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), brings together 25 outstanding young people from across the country, who would be actively involved in community outreach and other programmes.
In her address, subject Minister, Dr. Vindhya Persaud said that the idea of the forum is not only to empower youths, but to be able influence others in a positive direction, and to create linkages with other youths across the country.
“Influence is not something that should be misused, it should not be seen as power. It should be seen as a tool or an instrument or mechanism where you can guide people along a path that is beneficial to them, by being the best example and not just saying you are the best example,” she said.
The Minister said the first batch of influencers would be exposed to public speaking training and would be educated about social and other issues plaguing society, especially youths. They would also be informed about some of the services the Ministry provides.
“A big part of what you will do is to reach out into communities and work with young people like yourself who may not have had the opportunity to have mentors, who may not have the best of exposure and who may have had difficult experiences and those things would have allowed them to see themselves in a limited way. So, it is our collective agenda to ensure that no young person that this group will interact with will conder any limitation not only on their thinking but their potential,” she told the young people.
Minister Persaud noted that the aim is also to create an experience through volunteerism, that will galvanise the youths to move forward in a way that would also allow them to benefit. The youths would also have the opportunity to conceptualise a project that engages young people in a positive way. Once the project is viable, funding will be made available for its implementation.
British High Commissioner (Ag) His Excellency Ray Davidson lauded the initiative, which he said provides a platform for young people to think outside the box and make a difference in society.
“You, Guyana’s youth, can make a difference. Whether it is changing peoples’ attitudes, suggesting and introducing reforms, becoming an entrepreneur, volunteering for projects within your communities or just simply saying ‘no’ when you see injustice and discrimination. You might be young, but you can make a difference,” he said.
High Commissioner Davidson stressed on the benefits of volunteerism and how it can help to not only make a difference in others’ lives, but also help individuals cope with stress emotions, gain professional experience and impact job and scholarship opportunities.
He referred to the Chevening scholarship programme which offers a one-year Master’s Degree programme for Guyanese youths every year. “I am on the sift panel for applications. One of the first things I will look for is what volunteer experience does the applicant have. This will play a major part in deciding whether a scholarship is awarded,” he said.
The young people were also given an opportunity to interact with Minister Persaud and the High Commissioner, as well as officers from the Ministry.