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Delivering the feature address at the opening at the Hotel Tower, Georgetown, was Special Advisor and Head of Youth Affairs, Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP), Mr. Ignatius Takawana.
He stressed that it is time for young people to be recognised as resources and not as costs to governments of the various participating countries.
Young people should be accepted and respected in the society in which they live, he said.
According to Takawana, in order for the countries to move forward in the interest of youths, resources should be pooled by building partnerships.
Chairperson of the programme, Ms. Patrice LaFleur said decision-making at the regional level bridges the gap between the CYP and youths of the countries they represent.
The RYF met last October to elect a new executive body, which will be in operation until 2005.
The meeting opened yesterday will enable youth representatives to give a report of what they have done in their countries for the past four months. They will also discuss problems they faced and the ways in which these could be solved by regional officials.
LaFleur further noted that the RYF is meeting to derive a realistic one year plan for the benefit of the youths.
Mr. Armstrong Alexis, the Regional Director of the RYF, in his address, said that intense discussion on the problems affecting youths will be dealt with at the meeting since youths remain a central part of the programme.
He noted that the RYF is a consultative group designed to engage youths at all levels of decision-making. This meeting, he noted, will give the representatives an opportunity to be ambassadors for their countries.
Culture, Youth and Sports Minister, Ms. Gail Teixeira observed that the meeting is very important at this time, since the authorities need to know what impact the ambassadors are having on the youths in the countries they represent.
According to her, problems that the region is currently facing include the effects of the brewing war in other parts of the world.
This, she said, has already begun to be reflected in the increased prices for oil and therefore, peace is a critical issue.
There need to be non-violent solutions to problems that people are faced with, the minister added.
Other problems faced by the region are poverty and the threat of HIV/AIDS, which will be addressed by the RYF.
Teixeira noted that the provision of funds to deal with these issues is one major challenge faced by the officials of the RYF.
The RYF is represented by Damien Hughes - Anguilla; Nicole Hunte - Antigua; Emmalin Pierre - Grenada; Jeneve Mills - St. Kitts; Nicolette Balcombe - St Vincent and the Grenadines; Chad Blackman - Barbados; James Miles - Cayman Islands; Janielle Spencer - Jamaica; Nataliah Cardona - Belize; Paul Thomas - British Virgin Islands; Jerry Carbon - Dominica; Sandena Mortimer - The Bahamas; Marti DeSouza - Guyana; Nishard Mohammed - Trinidad; Danielle Lee - Montserrat and Jimmy Clavier - St Lucia. - (SHAWNEL CUDJOE)