Opening speech for the 2019 Youth Month

On behalf of the government of St. Kitts and Nevis and the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Culture; let me express my deepest gratitude for the privilege of addressing the Federation on this important day that marks the start of Youth Month 2019.

Today is a distinct honour because I call the youth to reaffirm their values and commitments, to hold them against what is expected, and to see how they’re measuring up to what our forbearers envisioned for future generations.

I’d like to start with a quote by a German philosopher who famously said, “That which does not kill you makes you stronger.” Those few words have been used frequently to appeal to our inner strength and our extraordinary ability to overcome even the greatest of circumstances. Today, as we enter the 2019 Youth Month, I would like us to take a moment to reflect on where we’ve been, all we’ve surmounted, and how far we’ve come. Having reflected, I am certain that we will all agree that we are much stronger today than we were yesterday and that our youth of tomorrow will enter a society that is considerably more resilient, self-sufficient, and most importantly more secure than ever before. And so, these remarks are a message of hope and an irrefutable reassurance that the future of St. Kitts and Nevis is brighter than could be anticipated just a few years ago.

I must note, however, that this optimistic outlook is the result of concerted efforts across government Ministries and decisive, deliberate actions by the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Culture. The Ministry, after consummately assessing the dynamic environments impacting the youth, strategized and redoubled its efforts to provide programming for the ultimate purpose of improving the lives and livelihoods of this important segment of our society. The ministry utilized every lever at its disposal to develop and empower our youth and to ensure that they had access to quality trainings, entrepreneurship and travel opportunities, as well as opportunities to be heard and be engaged in consequential policy discussions. Hence, our theme for this year is empowering our youth to follow their dreams, Youth month 2019.

Admittedly, however, there’s still much more to be done. Fortunately, the Ministry stands ready to rise to any occasion and to respond swiftly and effectively to changes in the youth environment. Even so, just as it takes a community to raise a child, it requires the entire country to raise a generation. Therefore, I call on everyone to continue to support youth work and young people simply because it’s our civic responsibility and our God-given duty. This is a call to service and an opportunity to ascend to a purpose greater than ourselves. Also, I want to commend the efforts of those who have already answered the call and encourage you to never grow weary of this patriotic duty. At the same time, I would like to remind our youth that the opportunities presently afforded to you did not just suddenly materialize out of nowhere. In many cases, tremendous sacrifices were made by past and present generations and in other cases, large sums of money were invested so that you could be better off today than you were yesterday. I urge you, therefore, to take a moment to consider the sacrifices made on your behalf, and I implore you to show gratitude, appreciation, and to pay that price forward to those who will come after you.

At this juncture, I want to recognize our courageous young entrepreneurs for their significant contributions to the country and to the economy. You chose to lead by example with hope and not fear, and I utterly encourage you to continue to follow your conviction rather than what is rational. Often, it is rational thinking that tells us that our dreams are impossible, but you listened to your hearts and believed in yourselves. For the aspiring entrepreneurs, challenge yourselves and be passionate about the things you care about. Take risks when you know that the reward would be worth it. Face your fears by believing in yourselves, surround yourselves with good company knowing that eagles do not fly with pigeons. And, finally, take the actions necessary to make your dreams a reality.

To each and every young person, I take pleasure in reminding you that destiny demands that you become men and women of earnest mind, that you are prepared for action and fit to bear responsibilities. Therefore, I entreat you to be wise and to consider what would be the result of leading a life of lesser purpose. Take time to pause on the threshold of your life and weigh your responsibilities, your opportunities, and your possibilities. You were called to a higher destiny but will only get there by pursuing the path of morally correct behavior, honor, safety, and success. Please do not become mere wrecks of humanity because of indulgence in unlawful habits or any other activity that does not advance your higher purpose. Instead, shine your light wherever you go and let the world know that you are not a person of indecision or someone who is easily swayed by the persuasions of undesirable associates.

As I bring my presentation to a close, I would like to turn my attention to the role of the parents in the development and success of the youth. In particular, I want to touch on the profound impact that the words we choose and the things we say have on them. Words have the power to bring us down and to lift us up. The wrong choice of words can strip us of our dreams and hopes, but the right words have the power to change the way we perceive the world. Therefore, I ask you, the parents, to be mindful that your words will influence the emotional and social development needed for your children’s later success. Choose your words wisely and ensure that they align with the developmental needs of the child, that they motivate the child towards positive behavior, and hold the child’s interest.

I want to thank everyone for listening and to wish the young people of the Federation a pleasant, fun, enlightening, and empowering Youth Month. I also want to encourage you to be involved in the activities planned for you and to give your opinions on how we can make them better. Some of these activities include a series of entrepreneurship trainings, an island wide bike ride, a high school cook-off, an art exhibition, a fun day for the differently abled, a high school chef competition, a luncheon with me, a business expo, the annual youth march and rally, a high school choir festival, and last but not least the 25 Most Remarkable Teen Awards. For more information, please contact the Department of Youth Empowerment.

Again, thank you for listening. May god bless our young people and our great Federation. I now declare the 2019 Youth Month officially started.