The Division of Sport and Youth Affairs (DSYA) has embarked on a new programme to engage and impact Tobago’s young people. On Friday February 21, the Department of Youth Affairs collaborated with the Moriah Police Youth Club to launch the Cool Connections Programme with a parade through the streets of Scarborough. The programme is designed to raise awareness on issues of health and safety while empowering youth to make sound decisions that will benefit their lives. The programme includes the identification and training of a cadre of young persons ages 12-17 as Choices Ambassadors.
During the parade, youth all ages, parents and other stakeholders walked from Tambrin Square to the Scarborough Esplanade in T-shirts bearing positive messages and encouraging persons to take a stand. Following this activity, the youth were exposed to interactive and motivational presentations. Local organisations such as the National Crime Prevention Programme (NCPP) and Sagicor also set up booths for persons to peruse.
President of the Moriah Police Youth Club, WPC Samaroo noted that she was heartened by the response of the youth to the initiative. She shared, “The event today was nice and I believe it was a success. It’s good when you are able to bring out the youth clubs and have their support. We saw participation from some of Tobago’s other Police Youth Clubs such as: Lambeau, Golden Lane, Goodwood and Signal Hill. Additionally, we’ve been partnering with DSYA since 2018 and this is a partnership we hope to always have as it is an asset that allows us to reach so many young people on the island of Tobago.”
During the launch, Director of Youth Development, Ann Marie DeGazon highlighted the drive behind the Cool Connections Programme. She explained, “The young people of Tobago number about 17,500, about 29 percent of our population. That is a significant figure for any one sector. This year the Division is focused on developing our young persons by equipping them with the tools and the skills they need to understand themselves, navigate difficult periods and take charge of their futures.”
Going forward, DeGazon also indicated that the initiative will be part of an ongoing approach which will add to the holistic development of youth long term. “We are continuing to partner with agencies such as the Children’s Authority and the Child Protection Unit so that as the programme goes forward, it’s not just about “Cool Connections” connecting the young persons involved, but we’re also connecting the agencies so that we have a coordinated delivery of services to the young people of Tobago.”