To aid this effort, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, OECS), on Tuesday, (30th July), donated over EC$100,000 in agricultural equipment, to the the Department of Community Development.
The equipment will be used, said an official release, following yesterday’s handing ceremony, in its Step Up programme which targets the rehabilitation of juveniles and provides interventions for at risk youth to deter from antisocial activities.
The release confirmed that the equipment, including wheelbarrows, ladders, pipes, flowerpots, bins, backpack sprayers, Verti Gro fertilizer and others – valued at approximately US $53,000.00 – was presented by Bentley Browne, Director of the Social and Sustainable Development Division at the OECS Secretariat, during a handover ceremony on Tuesday (July 30) at the headquarters of the St. Kitts & Nevis Defense Force, at Camp Springfield.
While accepting the gift, Probation Officer Tivanna Wharton indicated that the donation will be used in Step Up’s hydroponics programme, which is one component of St. Kitts and Nevis’ participation in the OECS Juvenile Justice Reform Project. The OECS Juvenile Justice Reform Project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Mr. Browne thanked USAID for its collaboration in this project.
He added that “Step Up will help to shift the focus of juveniles in the Federation from delinquency to productivity. The major components will include hydroponics, music and videography. However, as a ministry that deals with youth on a daily basis, we understand that simply engaging them in a few extra-curricular activities is not enough. Therefore, it is in that regard that several other services including life skills training, enrolment in a membership programme, counselling, tutoring and also a parenting programme… have been introduced.”
The ceremony was also addressed by the Minister responsible for Community Development Marcella Liburd, who indicated that the hydroponics programme will teach participants, between the ages of 12 to 17, about planting food to feed themselves and their families and provide for the local market.
Liburd was of the view that “The hydroponics programme will connect the young people to their communities. It will offer opportunities for their positive development.”
The minister said that she wants young people through this programme to become more responsible, develop a good work ethic and [practice] teamwork, learn about managing a business, be empathetic, respectful and confident.
Minister Liburd encouraged other parties to strengthen their resolve and do more to positively engage at risk youth. “We must be bold, positive, collaborative and creative in devising strategies to improve and positively impact the lives of our young people.”
The Director of the Social and Sustainable Development Division at the OECS Secretariat indicated that the reform project aims to ensure there is “social stability” in member states and that “crime and security issues are well managed” allowing for “stable economic and social development.”
The Director also revealed that the Government and people of St. Kitts and Nevis will receive about US $227,000.00 worth of goods and services. While referencing the value of the agricultural products, Mr. Browne added that “we intend very shortly to follow this up with additional equipment for videography for the Step Up programme which will … cost around US $56,000.00 and we also have to deliver shortly also some music equipment which will cost in the region of US $26,000.00.”