Youth leaders encouraged to take advantage of YLCP

CARLA BROWN-ROKER Youth Coordinator, Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture

An initiative of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Youth Leaders Certification Program (YLCP) was designed to provide avenues in which youth leaders facilitate Youth Programs and by doing so, they will be better able to engage, identify and approach all categories of youth, inclusive of those considered marginalized.

According to Carla Brown-Roker, Youth Coordinator with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Grand Bahama Office the YLCP aims to inform youth workers on national standards for youth work and mandatory reporting, provide a formal training that provides an opportunity for training and National Certification.

The Program also aims to ensure specific and measurable outputs that meet the strategic goals of the Ministry of Youth, assist in bringing about a professionalization to the practice of youth development and encourage persons to take advantage of further studies in the practice.

She encouraged all persons on the island that have a passion and desire to work with young persons on the island to enroll in the upcoming YLCP and become nationally certified.

“The course will be executed over a 15-week period and will commence on Tuesday, September 18 and thereafter, will be conducted every Tuesday between the hours of 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at the C. A. Smith Building in Freeport and the Eight Mile Rock High School, in Eight Mile Rock on Saturdays between the hours of 10:00 a.m. to noon, for the West Grand Bahama communities.

“By offering the course in two areas of our island, it allows a wider scope of youth leaders to engage in the course and, makes it convenient to access.”

According to Brown-Roker, program modules detailed in the YLCP include but are not limited to, positive youth development, adolescent development, designing a research-based youth program, dealing with child abuse issues, dealing with substance abuse and career and vocational guidance.

“A competent group of professionals will serve as presenters for each module.”

As persons that successfully complete the program will have one on one interaction with the youth in their care, Brown-Roker noted that the Royal Bahamas Police Force will conduct a vetting process; to ensure that all potential youth leaders enrolled are of good character.

“Our young people are so important as our greatest natural resource that we must have persons, who have put themselves forth, to be youth leaders, become vetted by the Royal Bahamas Police Force. They too are our partners and we have to ensure that persons’ backgrounds are checked. That is the only way that we are going to protect our young people and we cannot take it for granted.

“Every person that puts themselves to work with a young person must be above board; they must be above reproach and persons with characters worthy of dealing with our young people, with no ulterior motives. That is very important. How am I going to leave my house on a Friday evening to go to the group, and the leader/leaders of the group have characters that are questionable.

How am I going to even trust them to have a ‘lock-in’, as most youth groups do from time to time, hosting retreats, camping trips, overnight trips, you name it.

“If we are going to have people working with our young people, to help build them and build their character, they must be people of good character; that is a must. Our young people know who is who and we must protect them, even when they do not see danger; we must be proactive and we must be the ones to ensure that we are giving them the best of what we have to offer.

“Freeport and Eight Mile Rock, in terms of West Grand Bahama communities will benefit from this cohort, and we will move to the East afterward; we will continue to cycle until every youth organization and youth group, whether sporting, civic, religious or otherwise, we want to make sure that everyone gets a chance to be nationally certified as a youth leader.

“We will also be forming the Youth Leaders Association of Grand Bahama, revamping it because there was a Youth Leaders Association on Grand Bahama, many years ago, that body has to be re-birthed and take their rightful place. That body will represent the entire island; it cannot be residents of Freeport only, it must have an east and west to it; and the three work together in harmony to ensure that we are putting on programs and giving our young people opportunities that they so badly and desperately seek. It is that body that will work as a partner with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, for youth on Grand Bahama Island,” stated Brown-Roker.

Passionate about the youth of the nation she continued, “We must be able to reach the young people who are not attached to any organization; we must be able to go into the pockets where they are just hanging out. They are not coming to us so we must go to them. If that requires that we split up in teams or groups and target a certain area, then we must be willing to do that because if we are not proactive, and if we are not reaching out to them, we are going to lose even more of them and we cannot afford to do that. That is what this program is all about; this is also being offered in Nassau as well, in the month of October.

Classes begin on September 18, the deadline for registration is September 17, however, Brown-Roker informed that the applications will be ongoing.

“If persons are not a part of this current class they will be a part of the next class. I want to encourage any and all to come forth. Even if persons cannot come in to us in time, they can simply call the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and a form can be sent to them, and they can then bring it back into us.

“With the formation of the Youth Leaders Association, I want to forge even greater partnerships with the Royal Bahamas Police Force, so that together we can look at preventative ways and programs to empower young people. Programs to prevent them from falling by the wayside and also to tackle at risk youth. I also want it to be such a partnership that a youth leader, upon showing their identification can indeed be welcomed to the police headquarters, to meet with a police officer, or to meet with a youth that may be in their custody.

“We have to take this to the next level, if we are going to have a greater impact in youth development,” conclude Brown-Roker.

For more information on the program interested persons can contact the local Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture office at 351-1933 or 352-2958.

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