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May 24, 2002

Youth initiative kicks off with rally

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Everyone agrees on the nature of the problem: disaffected youths with too few marketable skills and too much temptation. A sure-fire recipe for a fatal subculture of crime, drugs and poverty. The hard part is finding the elusive answers. This afternoon government launched a new effort to provide some. And although the project started with a bang, its methods more resemble evolution than revolution. Jacqueline Woods, reports.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

The Youth for the Future Initiative is a programme that will co-ordinate a number of ongoing projects for Belizean youths.

Cordel Hyde, Minister of Youth

“We have been saying for sometime now that we think the approach to youth development has been scattered, that a lot of things have been going on. We have eighty thousand children or young people in the school system as I speak from pre-school to tertiary. We have a bunch of organisations, the YMCA, the YWCA, the Rotaract, the Lions, Scouts, everybody doing something, but it’s is not co-ordinated and targeted enough. In fact we feel that some organisations may be duplicating what other organisations are doing.”

There are plans also to identify new areas for youths, particularly those who are at risk.

Cordel Hyde

“In terms of establishing a youth enterprise fund that will create an opportunity for young people to access funds that are at a very soft rates for them to try to set up business initiatives.”

This afternoon, Y.F.F. was launched at a ceremony held at the Marion Jones Sports Complex, which was attended by several thousand young people who came from across the country. The young men and women spoke about the issues affecting them and what they believe is needed to help to improve the situation.

Eder Vega

“Well actually the drugs that affect most youths in Toledo and I don’t think there’s a solution to it.”

Jacqueline Woods


Eder Vega

“Because the more you tell the youths to stop, the more they do it.”

Jacqueline Woods

“So what programmes do you think are needed in Toledo and how do you want this initiative to help you guys?”

Eder Vega

“I think the drug council should help the youths in Toledo so that they can stop dealing with drugs and think about their future.”

Andrew Hemmans

“The church programmes.”

Jacqueline Woods

“You believe that the church should get more involved?”

Andrew Hemmans

“Yes ma’am, so that the youths can turn away from the wants of the world and do the things that God wants them to do.”

Tania Domingo

“Well some of the issues like teenage pregnancy, violence, drugs, peer pressure, things like that. I just hope that kids understand those don’t help you in life.”

Kendra Gill

“Some of the programmes are like youth groups, to help them deal with their situations, to talk to them about teenage pregnancy and how it can affect their lives, and how it will affect their education as well.”

On hand to motivate the youths was Belizean basketball star Milton Palacio.

Milton Palacio, Guest Speaker

“I’m glad that I came down here for this. It’s just a couple days out of my schedule and it’s just been great. It’s a great atmosphere with all the kids. And you know all these kids look up to you and you got to come out here and just say a couple words and hang out with them.”

Now that Y.F.F. has been launched, co-ordinator Nuri Muhammad says the work continues to prepare youths for a better future.

Nuri Muhammad, Co-ordinator, Y.F.F.

“We have already begun the work. We’ve begun the work on consultations, we’ve begun the work of trying to build the kind of partnerships that will be necessary to implement this programmes. Not only partners as far as NGOs and other government agencies besides the Youth Department, but also the youths themselves, building back a sense of trust that some of them had lost. Because they felt that, you’ve took me down this road before and it stopped, what’s to say that you won’t take me down this road again.”

Prime Minister Said Musa assured the youths that his government is committed to them and that Y.F.F. is there to provide them with the tools and opportunities needed for them to succeed.

Prime Minister Said Musa

“We have all talked the talk, it is time now to walk the walk. Our youths today are capable of being active and dynamic agents of change in our society, or they can impede change through in-discipline and disrespect for others. This initiative today seeks to channel them, channel them towards a life with meaning, a life of positive experiences, reinforced through community support and participation.”

Reporting for News 5 Jacqueline Woods.

On Saturday Milton Palacio will be making appearances in Dangriga and his family’s home village of Seine Bight.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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