President: Effort needed to build civic-mindedness among young people

Pres­i­dent Paula-Mae Weekes says there must be a con­cen­trat­ed ef­fort to build civic-mind­ed­ness among young peo­ple if T&T has to have a se­cure fu­ture.

Speak­ing at the Rapid Fire Chil­dren’s Foun­da­tion an­nu­al din­ner and Dutch auc­tion held at the Achiev­er’s Ban­quet Hall on Sat­ur­day night, Weekes com­mend­ed the foun­da­tion for work­ing with un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren by pro­vid­ing free eye­glass­es, med­ical clin­ics, ca­reer fairs and recre­ation­al op­por­tu­ni­ties.

How­ev­er, she called on the foun­da­tion to in­cor­po­rate civic-mind­ed pro­grammes in­to their ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Every pro­gramme you put in place should aim to in­cor­po­rate a heavy com­po­nent of cit­i­zen build­ing. It must be de­lib­er­ate­ly in­te­grat­ed in­to pro­grammes in or­der to have max­i­mum im­pact and pro­duce the change with young peo­ple,” Weekes said.

“Rapid Fire has stepped up and filled gaps in the so­cial fab­ric, buffered pover­ty and hard­ship, where there was a lack of prop­er guid­ance and mon­i­tor­ship. How­ev­er, you can have well-nur­tured per­sons hard-work­ing and pro­duc­tive who have failed com­plete­ly to grasp the essence of what it means to be a good cit­i­zen,” she said.

Weekes said the Of­fice of the Pres­i­dent had start­ed a pro­gramme with Form One stu­dents aimed at teach­ing them what it means to be­come a good cit­i­zen.

“I am con­fi­dent that if we as a na­tion are re­lent­less in the pur­suit of our goal to in­stil a sense of civic pride we will cre­ate a gen­er­a­tion of in­dus­tri­ous peo­ple who com­mit to tak­ing own­er­ship of their coun­try,” she said. Weekes added, “You are in­vest­ing in the next gen­er­a­tion and the re­turns will go be­yond mere pover­ty al­le­vi­a­tion,” she added.

Mean­while, Pres­i­dent of the Foun­da­tionKevin Rati­ram said he was con­cerned about low rates of adop­tion among the chil­dren who live in chil­dren homes and or­phan­ages across the coun­try.

Rati­ram said sta­tis­tics from the Chil­dren’s Au­thor­i­ty show that there are 651 chil­dren liv­ing in over 40 chil­dren homes.

“Be­tween May 2015 and June 2019, 33 adop­tion or­ders were grant­ed by the court. This means in four years about eight chil­dren per year were legal­ly adopt­ed in T&T,” Rati­ram added. He al­so said it seems some peo­ple were re­luc­tant to adopt chil­dren from homes.

“Why is it we con­sid­er chil­dren in these homes to be in­fe­ri­or. Why is it they are not good enough to re­ceive our love? Par­ents, the time has come for us to ac­knowl­edge and un­der­stand that they are not in­fe­ri­or, not dam­aged goods but they are the fu­ture of T&T.

If we don’t do our part to raise care and nur­ture them, then to­mor­row many will be­come sta­tis­tics.” he said.

Dur­ing the func­tion, guests were treat­ed to a mod­el­ling show and a dutch auc­tion of au­to­graphed bats from crick­et leg­ends Bri­an Lara and Sachin Ten­dulkar.

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