Prime Minister Andrew Holness, is lauding the nation’s youth for continuing to make impactful contributions to the country’s development and to significantly enhance the lives of Jamaicans through their various endeavours.
“Some of you, as part of the National Youth Advisory Council, are helping to develop policy, debate issues and contribute to our democracy through the youth arms of political parties or through various other groups and organisations. You are playing your part to strengthen our civil society,” he said.
Holness was addressing the virtual staging of the Prime Minister’s National Youth Awards for Excellence on Sunday.
He also acknowledged those young people who volunteer their time for causes that they are passionate about, “causes such as helping out in youth centres and being mentors to your peers. Many of you do this without fanfare or seeking compensation”.
“Other young people are spending hours each week learning leadership skills and building character through groups such as Scouts, Girl Guides and Pathfinders,” he said.
“Thank you so much for your service,” the prime minister emphasised, while pledging the Government’s continued commitment to the empowerment of the youth by expanding opportunities for them.
He specially praised the significant contributions of the 30 young persons who topped the field of nominees in the 12 categories and were chosen as award recipients.
“All of you… are being recognised for your commitment, your dedication, your energy that you give to a variety of causes that will benefit the lives of other Jamaicans in tangible ways. The projects that you undertake and the experience and passion you bring will change the lives of others and are of great value,” he said.
Holness noted that the awardees’ passion for excellence and their achievements, to date, “at this very exciting and meaningful stage of your life”, provide strong encouragement to those who are following in their footsteps.
“What strikes me most about all of you, and, indeed, those that I have met in previous years, is your passion and desire to make a positive contribution to the development of our country, and that is what makes recognising and celebrating your achievements so important,” he said.
The prime minister said it is imperative that the positive efforts and outcomes of young people are celebrated as often as possible, given that what is seen in the papers and online, tend to focus more on the sensational and controversial rather than the positive.
“The efforts of young entrepreneurs making the bold step to start up businesses or youth leaders making a difference in their communities are often not highlighted. Indeed, there are young people whose lives are beacons of hope. That is why we have made the effort of the past few years to recognise the various sectors in which our young people are excelling,” he said.
Holness noted that since the inception of the youth awards in 1998, more than 200 young persons between the ages of 15 and 29 have been recognised for their positive contributions to various sectors.
“Awardees… I encourage you to continue your impactful work. We all need to play our part to ensure Jamaica remains the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business,” he said.
A total of 68 nominees were shortlisted in the categories of agriculture and agri-processing, entrepreneurship and social enterprise, journalism and e-journalism, art and culture, leadership, environmental protection, sports, nation-building, academics; innovation in science and technology, youth development, and international achievement.
This year’s awards ceremony was celebrated under the theme ‘Youth: Resilient through Entrepreneurship, Training, Hope Innovation, Networking and Knowledge (RETHINK)’.