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Youths urged to keep the conversation going

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Youths in Tobago were encouraged to share their perspectives on topics that are classified as “taboo” at the first installment of the Youth Chill and Chat series. The activity was held on June 13, 2019, at the Scarborough Library Facility’s Ann Mitchell-Gift Auditorium under the theme, “Sex: Morals and Values- How to do it right?” The series is being hosted by the Tobago Youth Council in collaboration with the Division of Sport and Youth Affairs, Tobago’s Writer’s Guild and the Tobago Library Services.

Over fifty attendees between the ages of 15 to 35 years shared their views in a safe space guided by a versatile panel of four. The panelists included: Spoken word poet Kleon Mc Pherson, President of the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Tobago Chapter Christal Ottley, artiste Xavier Edwardz and Sexologist Onika Henry.

The evening got going with a question that intrigued many young minds: “What is sex and when is it acceptable to talk about sex?” Henry set the tone for this topic by explaining, “Sex is a release of genital energy with or without penetration.”

She explained, “You begin sexual education in the way you respond to changing your baby’s diaper.” It was also noted that sex should be taught at each developmental stage as body shaming, consent and acceptance of genital areas are learnt in the toddler stage. Ideally, sexual education at a “baby stage” sets the foundation to one’s sexuality. As such, it was deemed important to understand that teaching about sex goes further than warning against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)’s.

Youths in attendance, such as Hannah-Rose Alfred, were delighted with the scope of the topic. She shared, “This is an amazing discussion because sex is such a multifaceted topic that has the potential to get youth more involved and comfortable in sharing their views.”

Speaking during the event, Programme Coordinator for the Department of Sport and Youth Affairs Julien Skeete praised the initiative and commended the organisations involved. He said, “The DSYA is committed to youth development and stands firmly in support of this initiative.” Pleased with the turnout, Skeete challenged persons to extend the discussion beyond the evening, thereby fulfilling the purpose of the initiative.

He also highlighted, “I am particularly pleased that an unconventional topic such as sex was chosen because whether we like it or not it is happening and it is best to prepare our youth now for the future.”

Upcoming Youth Chill and Chat sessions include: “Exploring youth contribution to Tobago’s arts and culture” – July 25, “Transforming education”- August 12 and “Youth solutions to crime and violence in Tobago”- September 23, 2019.