The Barbuda Council held its inaugural Youth Awards over the weekend, highlighting the hard work and achievements of the youth of the sister isle, under the theme ‘Igniting the fire within.’
The event, which was held in the auditorium of the Holy Trinity Academy, featured 16 awards to include culinary arts, entrepreneurship, education, sports, tourism, agriculture, cultural and performing arts, and NGO development.
The featured speaker was the twin island’s Director of the Department of Youth Affairs, Dr Jrucilla Samuel, who highlighted the significance of the theme, and called on residents to be passionate, purposeful while maintaining mental wellness.
“How do we ignite and sustain that fire within? Let’s start with a simple word—passion which is an inclination or obsessive feeling for something that you love,” she said.
“Once you find passion, you may also find your purpose … in a world of increasing disillusionment, depression and suicides, we can all agree that the pursuit of purpose must be prioritised to make life more meaningful.
“Now if you are going to ignite that fire within, you find that harmonious passion that bolsters psychological well-being.
“Just a word of caution for individuals pursuing passion by any means necessary: passion can become an obsession [and] although they may be actively engaged, obsessive passion can breed conflict.”
Dr Samuel also warned the attendees against persons whom she described as “living fire extinguishers”.
“These individuals can smoulder you, cool you down and starve your progress,” she said.
Some of the awards including Barbuda’s Best, Young Artisan, Top Common Entrance Student, Top CXC Student, Top Sportsman in Basketball, Young Writer/Poet, the Culinary Arts Award and the Entrepreneur award.
Also in attendance was Senator Caleb Gardiner who described the award cerermony as “a momentous occasion” and noted the diversity of talent among the 16 recipients.
Senator Gardiner also underscored the need for unity and active pursuit of passion and authenticity.
“Each awardee must stay true to themselves while developing their core values to ignite the flame within,” advised Gardiner.
The Member of Parliament for Barbuda, Trevor Walker, also spoke at the award ceremony, and highlighted the importance of sports.
“Barbuda, as we know it, has produced many outstanding sportsmen and sportswomen within the state of Antigua and Barbuda, especially within the last 15 years … and with hard work, dedication, and commitment you can [go even further].
“I want to say to the organisers that this should be just the start of many more good things to come, and I want to see that day when we are on the national stage, competing in Antigua for awards,” MP Walker told the audience.
Chair of the Barbuda Council’s Sports and Youth Affairs Department, Shemira Myers, whose department organised the event, also noted that it was time to highlight the success of the youth, and inspire the next generation of Barbudan high-achievers.
“To this end, this first-ever youth awards seek to highlight the accomplishments and contributions made by our younger demographic; this is an attempt to encourage, motivation, inspire and ignite the fire within,” Myers stated.