His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams GCMG, KGN, KStJ, DSc, PhD(hc), MBBS, FCAMA
Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda
on the occasion of the 2023 Founder’s Day and Thinking Day, celebrated globally on February 22, 2023
As patrons of the Girl Guides and Scouts Associations in Antigua and Barbuda, Lady Williams and I are happy to provide support service organizations across our island nation, particular those who work with our children and young members of our society. Today, we come together to celebrate the legacies of Lord Baden-Powell and Lady Olave Baden-Powell, the founders of the Scout and Girl Guide movements respectively.
On this special occasion, we also celebrate the rich history and the bright future of Scouting and Guiding, and we give thanks for the many opportunities that these organizations have provided to young people around the world and here at home.
As we reflect on the theme of this year’s Thinking and Founder’s Day, Our World – Our Peaceful Future, we are reminded of the important role that Scouts and Girl Guides play in promoting peace, both in their local communities and on a global scale. By promoting understanding, empathy, and cooperation, Scouts and Girl Guides help to create a world where all people can live in peace and harmony. This is a particularly important message at this time, when we are saddened by the rising number of reports of youth violence in our schools and the wider community. Life is precious and we must do all we can to reduce the incidents of self-harm and violence against others.
While we can make declarations to our youths that they should behave or live in peace, it requires a greater level of intervention by the adults in their lives. These adults, including parents, teachers, ministers of the gospel as well as Girl Guide and Scout leaders must collectively and consistently provide the training required for that young person in their care to grow up in the way he or she should. The task is not an easy one, especially if you are receiving a child in your care for a short period of time or years after that young person has been without the necessary love and reproof. Regardless of our frustrations we must never grow weary in well doing when it comes to the children and youths in our care. Leaders and teachers, here are a few ideas which you may consider in our quest to make this world a more peaceful one, starting with your guide or scout group.
Dealing with youth anger and violence requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the underlying causes of the behaviour while also providing support and guidance to the youth. Here are some strategies that may be helpful:
1. Address underlying issues as they appear in the members of your group: Anger and violence may be a result of underlying issues such as trauma, mental health problems, substance abuse, or family conflicts. Addressing these issues may be key to helping youth overcome their anger and violent tendencies.
2. Encourage positive communication: Teach youth how to communicate their feelings in a constructive way. Encourage them to express their emotions without resorting to physical violence.
3. Provide a positive example for those in your care by being a role model yourself: Providing positive examples to our youths can help them see the benefits of healthy relationships and positive behaviour. Mentors, teachers, and coaches can all serve as positive role models.
4. Provide support and guidance: It’s important to provide support and guidance to youth who may be struggling with anger and violence. This could include counselling, therapy, or support groups.
5. Encourage healthy activities: Encouraging youth to engage in healthy activities, such as sports or creative pursuits, can provide an outlet for their anger and energy.
6. Create a safe and structured environment: Providing a safe and structured environment can help prevent youth from engaging in violent behaviour. Your Girl Guide or Scouts meeting can be a haven for the young people in your group. Carefully plan your meetings so that they are interesting, engaging, and meaningful to the young people you are trying to reach. Once they see your genuine love and interest in their lives, they will keep returning. If your numbers are falling, make it a matter of prayer for wisdom to find ways to reach out to them.
It’s important to remember that every youth is different, and what works for one may not work for another. A compassionate and understanding approach is key to helping youth overcome their anger and violent tendencies. Once again, I encourage you all not to grow weary in well doing.
As we give thanks for the blessings of Scouting and Guiding, let us also remember the countless volunteers who give their time and energy to make these organizations possible. We are grateful for their commitment and dedication to the development of young people, and we honor their service. For those volunteers gathered in our presence, be assured that we value your presence as well.
Finally, let us also take a moment to remember those who have gone before us and who have left a legacy of exemplary service, distinguished and inspirational leadership, and impeccable character. May their examples inspire us to continue the work of Scouting and Guiding for generations to come.
I call upon all to join us in celebrating Founders and Thinking Day. Let us continue to work together to build a better world, one Scout and one Girl Guide at a time.