University of West Indies Hosts Belize Country Conference 2019

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The University of the West Indies (UWI) through its 2019 Belize Country Conference hosted a two-day conference at the Mexico Sporting Complex, which featured stimulating discussions under the theme “Youth and Security: Assessing Risks, Mitigating Vulnerabilities, and Improving Wellbeing.” Under that theme, the discussions attempted to tackle issues of gender and equality, youth security, mental health, and wellbeing. Participating in those discussions were both secondary and tertiary level students as well as panelists who presented academic papers on themes affecting youth. Those included school-based responses to violence and economic inclusion of youth.
According to Acting Head at UWI, Dr. Sharmayne Saunders, UWI is mandated to house a country conference every two years to focus on presenting findings of research papers conducted in and about Belize. Early this year, persons were invited to do just that: research about things happening in Belize, focusing on this year’s theme, of course. That theme was chosen by a local organizing committee, all youths in Belize, who then developed areas of topic under the theme.
One person who never shies away from the importance of youth and youth-based initiatives is Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture. He says that until the risks and vulnerabilities of youth are recognized, there cannot be equal opportunities for youths. CARICOM Youth Ambassador, Kris Miller was also at the conference and spoke of the importance of changing how the youths are viewed. He says that there continues to be stigmatization and marginalization of youths, who are “largely treated as the protagonist of criminal violence.” In that same breath, Miller says that youths are viewed as vulnerable and helpless. Until those perceptions are eradicated and replaced with more positive things, there cannot be complete advocacy nor youth development.