A large section of the St. Johnston Community Center was transformed into a colourful and comfortable environment where youths from across the country can get help with homework, learn sports, access counselling, play games, surf the internet and enjoy educational and family-oriented films. Additionally the members will have the opportunity to gain culinary skills in the kitchen as well as learn how to play a musical instrument, perhaps even creating a track or two in the newly outfitted recording studio.
President of Operation Future Lauston Percival told SKNIS that his organization spent approximately $30,000.00 to acquire the relevant materials to create this educational and entertainment centre. The funds were provided by the Canadian Government while additional contributions are expected from the European Union. However, he was most proud of not having to spend on the labour as the renovations which included a major cleanup campaign, room restructuring and painting was done by Operation Future’s members including those from Her Majesty’s Prison and other volunteers.
Minister responsible for Community Development the Honourable Marcella Liburd fully endorsed the creation of the Academy. She recounted receiving the proposal to utilize a section of the community center that was not being used. After reviews and consultation with staff members, the project received a green light.
“I’m very, very impressed,” she declared, while touring the facility after the opening ceremony. Minister Liburd, who also holds the portfolio of culture, highlighted the music instruments and studio. “I think it’s a very good way for them (young people) to use their imagination, to use their energy and also for them to become cultural exponents …”
Minister Liburd added that she was proud of the public-private sector partnerships that produced the Creative Youth Academy and expressed confidence in its success due to the active involvement of persons from all walks of life.
President Percival, who is a member of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force, explained that this is a significant moment in the seven year existence of Operation Future.
“We want this to be a model, not just for the Federation but for the Caribbean,” Percival stated. ”We want this Creative Youth Academy to be something St. Kitts and Nevis can boast of and this is a turning point for Operation Future, there’s no turning back for us.”
With schools on Christmas break, plans are in place to accommodate children from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We are going to be open every single day,” the constable noted. “We have volunteers but we are still looking for more because we want to have this placed filled. Summer vacation, Easter vacation whatever time of year, this Creative Youth Academy is going to be filled with youth.”
There are plans as well to introduce new services in the future. These include playground equipment for smaller children as well as hosting an outdoor movie night for families.
Additional information about the Creative Youth Academy is available via telephone 668-0856.