Senior Minister – Dr. Timothy Harris
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
August 28, 2010 (SKNIS)
Healthy lifestyles and the importance of protecting the body from toxins and harmful influences were highlighted in Molineux, on Saturday (August 28).
The Community Leaders Advancing Molineux and Phillips’ (CLAMP) transformed an open area, to a safe play park, enclosing it with a picket fence, and erecting monkey bars, swing set and benches.
The project was one outcome of the PANCAP/CARICOM Youth Ambassador-administered Mini-Grant Programme, which tackles issues associated with HIV/AIDS. At an official launching ceremony, CLAMP’s President Elmar Martinez told residents that he was proud to open the park where individuals and families can go to relax, stay fit or have friendly competition.
Mr. Martinez indicated that the benches and other structures will depict HIV/AIDS messages that will serve to educate users of the facility with a view of promoting behavioural change. Other aspects of the project included an HIV/AIDS quiz among church representatives, and also working with a community dance group to develop themed performances that highlight social issues associated with the disease, such as stigma and discrimination.
CARICOM Youth Ambassador (CYA) Ian Richards commended CLAMP for the huge scope of the project. He cited figures from the 1997-98 Caribbean Youth Health Survey of 10 to 18 year olds which revealed that some 34 percent of the 15,695 youth across nine countries, had already had sexual intercourse. Sixty six percent engaged in sexual behaviour before the age of 13.
Additionally, 25 percent of the youth respondents admitted that they always used contraception. The study was highlighted in the 2009 Report of the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development (CCYD) which Mr. Richards said is an urgent call for action from young people.
Youth Ambassador Richards also cited a recent report that indicated that HIV/AIDS cases in 16 African countries are declining among 15 to 24 years old. This is attributed to a decrease in multiple sex partners, an increase in abstinence, and increased condom use. Mr. Richards challenged youth across the Region to emulate their African peers in helping to reduce the spread of the epidemic, thereby possibly delisting Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean as the number one and two respectively ranked areas in the world with the highest incidences of the pandemic.
Parliamentary Representative for the community, Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris, recalled that it was just 10 days ago that he attended the closing of a another CYA collaboration with CLAMP, which involved deterring young people from crime by equipping them with income generation, anger management, conflict resolution and goal setting skills.
Senior Minister Harris, remarked that the challenges of antisocial activity and job employment is not unique to St. Kitts and Nevis, the Region or many countries the world over. He praised the local CYA programme and CLAMP, and pledged support to similar activities being undertaken by youth groups. An appeal was also made for other entities and individuals to encourage the young people wherever and whenever possible.