On Monday, December 16th, stakeholders in youth care participated in a workshop, provided by the Public Entity Saba, to discuss the new Youth Policy Plan which is being drafted by Policy Advisor of the Saba Package Elsa Peterson.
The Youth Policy Plan seeks to outline the obligations of the Public Entity Saba, and also the responsibilities of the National Government, various stakeholders, families and the young people themselves. The policy is both an acknowledgement of the s unique contribution for further development and the specific needs of young people and a formal recognition of their potential and.
In line with this, it is fundamental that Government, in partnership with key stakeholders, provides the youth with equal access to opportunities that enable them to grow, develop and prosper as fully engaged, responsible, and productive citizens of Saba, Peterson explained. Throughout the years it has been recognized by Government and various stakeholders that the youth need to be a priority on the agenda.
Several attempts were made in the past to arrive at a Youth Policy Plan. Saba has undergone major (constitutional) changes and though the needs of youth may not have changed drastically, these needs have definitely expanded due to the socio-cultural and economic context in which people live today.
Monday’s workshop with the stakeholders, led by Island Secretary Tim Muller and Policy Advisor Elsa Peterson, focused on the eight strategic approaches presented in the draft document. These approaches are: Youth Participation and Empowerment, Youth and Safety, Youth and Family life, Youth and Care, Youth and Health, Youth and Education, Youth, Sports, Culture and Recreation, and Youth and Employment.
Peterson gave an introduction as to each approach, after which the stakeholders had the opportunity to pose questions and to further analyze the items in the Youth Policy Plan. Peterson met with various stakeholders individually between September and November. Members of the Saba Island Council were actively involved in the brainstorm sessions to arrive at the draft Youth Policy Plan. Monday was the first session where most of the stakeholders came together.
Peterson also met with many young people in formal and informal settings. “I could sense their innocence and their enthusiasm about the future. There were both happy and worrisome moments. I have listened to youngsters who said that there is not enough to do on Saba.”
It should be noted that a lot of activities are organized for the young people on Saba. The Saba Comprehensive School (SCS) for example has more than 20 clubs in which students participate in the afternoon hours. Dance classes are organized, as well as volleyball and basketball trainings, and many other activities. Saba has playgrounds in the villages and there is a Saba Fit Park in The Bottom. Saba has its own sports coordinator in the person of Joelyn Robinson. Every year a Children’s Rights Week is organized.
Peterson reminded the workshop participants that the youth is vulnerable and that they need support. “We are all a part of the Saban community. As professionals in our fields we can all do something to help the young people and facilitate those in need,” she said.
“As a community we are also confronted with the negative stigmas involving the youth. But there are many good things happening and we should acknowledge that too. It is important to supply programs that motivate, support and educate young people so that they can actively participate in activities and society at large. Youth, families, organizations, governments and communities as a whole benefit when young people have a voice that is listened to, respected and utilized,” stated Peterson, who emphasized that parents play a crucial role too.
Workshops will continue from January through February 2020 as the process for the youth policy is not yet completed. During these sessions a plan of action will be put in place that will provide for an integral and meaningful development of the youth. Final decision-taking on the Youth Policy Plan will take place before May 2020.
Stakeholders in attendance at Monday’s workshop included representatives of the schools, day care, the Community Development Department and Public Health, the Public Entity Saba, and the Youth Care and Family Guardianship Caribbean Netherlands JGCN.