By Latrishka Thomas
The voice of the youth is crucial to the overall development of a nation, and the National Youth Parliament Association of Antigua and Barbuda (NYPAAB) is carrying the mantle to ensure that that voice is heard.
In that regard, on Friday, several young parliamentarians participated in this year’s inaugural debate of the NYPAAB where they debated the Constitution and Code of Ethics of the organisation.
After the debate, Chrystal Valentine-Willock who was the Prime Minister during the debates, told OBSERVER media that she is proud to be speaking on behalf of other youths across the twin island.
“It is just a proud day for all of us to be here so we can act on behalf of, not only ourselves, but also our peers and the youth out there who are striving for a better tomorrow. We need leaders who are committed, especially young leaders who are committed,” she said.
In addition, the leader of the opposition, Chaneil Imhoff, said that through the Youth Parliament Association, she is determined to make a difference.
“Today [Friday] was a bit of a bucket list item. I have always had political aspirations since I can remember, so debating here for me was not only exciting but it was fulfilling, and it’s something that I plan to continue to do.
“I’ve been involved in youth advocacy, volunteerism for the past ten years or so, and I believe that organisations like the National Youth Parliament Association can actually push forward for comprehensive youth advocacy and actually effect positive change in Antigua and Barbuda,” Imhoff stated.
Another participant of the debate, and the speaker for Barbuda, Jahmaal Frederick, also shared similar sentiments.
He said: “It was a great experience. It’s something I’ve always dreamt about; to sit down here in these chambers and represent a constituency. It has always been a dream to advocate for young people and I’m glad for the opportunity that I’ve been given by the National Youth Parliament Association of Antigua and Barbuda.”
Meanwhile, the Head of the NYPAAB Steering Committee, Kamalie Mannix, said that despite challenges, he is satisfied with how the debate was executed.
“We would have gone through a lot of practices, a lot of preparation, a lot of training, and I think today [Friday] each and every member really did their best, and it was a challenge because some of the participants are UWI students, some of them go to Antigua State College, so everybody has their own level of burden and their own responsibilities, but yet still everybody put themselves out their way to make sure that they were here, that they participated in the debate and that they contributed to their optimum capacity,” Mannix shared.
The NYPAAB is an organisation set up to spearhead and boost the participation of young people by giving them a platform to advocate on youth and national issues.
This is coupled with the fostering of skills such as public speaking, legislative drafting, parliamentary debate and civic engagement.
It is open to persons between the ages of 16-29. Anyone wishing to join can email;[email protected].