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Apr 29, 2015

U.S. Embassy Recognizes Local Youth Groups

The U.S. Embassy recognized four youth groups for doing outstanding work in their communities. Today, the youth presented on the projects which included works to rehabilitate a center to provide a safe and clean meeting space for young people of Armenia Village, environmental and sustainability awareness, as well as dissemination of information on sexual reproductive health.  The initiative seeks to equip young people with the knowledge and skills to implement the projects to assist their communities.  Andrea Polanco was at the ceremony today where she learnt about the impacts of the work the groups have been doing over the past couple months.

 

Antonette Nunez, President, Dangriga YAM, BFLA

“The concern was that the age range and there are young teenage pregnancies, there are also girls that at the age of nine and ten are pregnant and it’s a surprise to our society. So, the concern is that what the background of this main thing is why we have so much teenage pregnancy in our society.”

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

And it’s realities like that one which moved the U.S Embassy to develop the Belizean Youth Leadership Initiative. The program’s focus is to empower at risk youth in marginalized communities.

 

Carlos Moreno

H.E. Carlos Moreno, U.S. Ambassador to Belize

“The idea for these specific projects, ant this is important, originated with the youths themselves. They as a group decided, how can we demonstrate our commitment to our community? How can we best use the limited funds that are available to get good results and I think this is what we have in this particular instance.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“How important is it for the U.S Embassy to engage young people and support projects that are centered around communities?”

 

H.E. Carlos Moreno

“I think it’s tremendously important. For one, it gives the youth the opportunity to participate in a positive way in their community and it gives our embassy and employees an idea about what is going on in the various communities. And to the extent that we can, we want to help foster those kinds of activities in the communities.”

 

Antonette Nunez

The Youth Advocacy Movement of Dangriga Town created ‘Street Beat’- a social education program targeting youth in that municipality.

 

Antonette Nunez

“Some of the things that they do is because they feel like it is the thing to do, to like get phone and clothing and material things. The other thing is love, parental love they feel they didn’t get that home. The other thing is that they do is because of friends- they follow friends and are under peer pressure and then also low self-esteem.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“As a part of the program that you’re involved in, how many students or young people did you target and do you think that the information you shared made a difference in the young people’s lives?”

 

Antonette Nunez

“Yes, because our target was for four hundred and I think we did more. We went back for more sweet and I believe we reached them because people came out and reached even at my house to ask what they can do. They asked for condoms and talked to us about any issue they have. I believe we did it.”

 

A similar program was carried out by the team from Belize City. They found creative ways to educate their target group.

 

Steve Flowers

Steve Flowers, Belize City YAM, BFLA

“We implemented this facebook page, called “Gimmi Di Thing.” And there is also a Safe Text line. You ask the questions so you text the word “SAFETXT” TO 604-1911. It is also a help line that is subscription and it doesn’t really cost anything, just one text. So, we send out text on sex, and sexual reproductive health, pregnancy, STDs and STIs. So, that’s what we are promoting.”

 

Also recognized at today’s ceremony was the FCD’s Environmental Youth Group.

 

Nidia Panti

Nidia Panti, FCD Youth Group

“Our project is entitled the Sustainable Nursery and Reforestation Programme. We just ended a cleanup campaign which was successfully completed. The second one is a reforestation project that we engaged schools around to become involved in the community. And the main component is the construction of the nursery which is yet to be completed by the end of next month. In terms of making the project sustainable, we are projecting to have about one hundred to one hundred fifty seedlings by the end of December. So, we went to do the campus beautification and we asked to do the reforestation on the banks of the river in Succotz and probably up to Benque and Arenal communities.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.

 

The groups, Path light International, Youth Advocacy Movement BFLA Dangriga, Friends for Conservation Youth Group, and the Youth Advocacy Movement BFLA Belize City, were supported with mentors small financial contributions from the U.S Embassy.

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