The weeklong series of youth education events promoted jointly by several non-governmental organizations, culminated in an inspiring, informative and entertaining show on the topic of parental involvement at the Eugenius Johnson Centre on Thursday evening. An impressive number of participants filled the hall to capacity, with many standing outside. Under the coordinating leadership of director of Expertise Centre Education Care (EC2), Henriette van Heijnsbergen, AIDS Support Group Saba Foundation (ASGS) and Child Focus Foundation jointly developed the weeklong activities that encouraged active involvement and empowerment of parents, youth and teachers in the educational process.
Among the special invited guests for the week was Lennox Bernard, emeritus head of School of Continuing Studies and Senior Lectures at University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago, who met with all institutions involved in the shaping of the young as well as with parents. He also conducted an assessment study of the youth’s perception of the school and home environment.
Saba Comprehensive School youths took part in motivational music workshops led by visiting St. Eustatius guests Dion “Mega D” Humphreys and Magumbo Muntu. Acting as their host, arts teacher Stacey Simmons worked with Muntu on the creation of art posters reflecting the theme of youth empowerment. Both the music and art poster workshops built on ASGS’s theme of (self-) acceptance: “You are what you are and what you are is OK.”
Objective of the workshops was to promote youth self-esteem, awareness about personal sexuality decisions, while also creating a stand against bullying, identity- based discrimination, peer pressure, verbally, emotionally or physically abusive relationships. The posters are to be used in ASGS’s awareness campaign. Mega D engaged the youth in making and recording a song which was featured Thursday evening. Yet unveiled are video productions on HIV/ STI awareness and condom use promotion. Mega D performed some of the songs developed during the week on Saba as well as with Statia youth.
The platform is to become the basis for a school agenda that would feature the youth and the programmes of organizations on both islands.
Dr. Bernard presented
preliminary findings of the community-wide interviews and assessments. In a moving speech to parents and teachers in the audience, he explained the statistics as “the voice of your youth speaking to you.” He spoke on an array of challenges, indicating areas where adults must find means to engage their youth so that they would carry on the values and identity of the community, and so that the youth do not become estranged. Bernard encouraged parents to volunteer in youth programmes and school events, continue to monitor and help with homework, and get involved in the school’s decision-making process.
The night also featured four psycho-drama productions directed by Micheline Hinse and Bernard, with the participation of parents, teachers and students as actors. Carl Buncamper, highly involved in the weeklong event series, served as the narrator’s voice for each play, describing each scenario.
The evenings climaxed not only in snacks and drinks provided by the hosting organization, but the Saba youth drums performance led by visiting Magumbo Muntu, got parents, youth and teachers dancing together.