– says youth advocate
THE “Just Youth It” conference, now in its fifth year, has directed focus on creating safe spaces for youth so that they may be able to express themselves and boost their own development.
This is in keeping with the theme for International Youth Day “Safe Spaces for Youth” which is being celebrated today.
The conference featured a packed day of events involving breakout sessions in the morning when youth benefitted from various areas of learning such as animation, entrepreneurship and robotics after which they were given an opportunity to work on civic engagements projects.
The main event, however, was the afternoon conference during which all the youth converged to network and listen to a few presentations.
Speaking here was youth advocate Eden Corbin, who said: “The call for more emphasis and deliberate attention to be placed on youth is one that will never expire.”
He also noted that youth have been synonymous with the future but their development is one which begins when persons make a deliberate move to create an environment where youth feel safe and welcomed. This is where the concept of safe spaces comes in.
For him, safe spaces need not always be a physical structure but it must be one that allows youth development to occur.
“A safe space occurs within a conversation,” he said, adding: “It is wherever someone feels comfortable sharing something.”
Adding to this was British High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn, who noted that when promoting youth development, youth must be cognisant of the role they must play.
“Hold your leaders and your representatives to the highest standards and demand that they represent you,” Quinn charged.
He added: “Demand that your voices are heard and that your opinions are acted upon and when possible, use your vote to get people elected who represent your views.”
Youth must be seen and not only heard,” he said.
“It is the young people who have driven the Commonwealth agenda on clean oceans and on the need to tackle issues such as plastic pollution; it is young people who demanded access to education; it is young people who have stood up to and demanded action on violence against children,” he said.
At the conference, the Guyana Chronicle launched its monthly youth paper: #Extra which is also seeking to provide a platform for youth.