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Among dignitaries in attendance were Canadian High Commissioner Mr Serge Marcoux, Deputy British High Commissioner Mr Steve Croffman, and Representative of the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) Mr. Alexis Armstrong.
One important objective of this current Youth Parliament is to provide a means through which young people can express their views, ideas, and opinions in a constructive manner, creating self-confidence and intellectual stability in the process.
Another goal is to inspire young persons to demonstrate leadership by taking up meaningful and active roles in society. These roles will help them realise that they possess the power to shape their own future.
The annual Youth Parliament is one of the many projects undertaken by the Guyana Youth Development Association (GUYDA), which is registered with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport.
According to Deputy Director of GUYDA, Mr. Ronald Harsawack, the Youth Parliament was established to meet the need for a national mechanism that would allow youth to voice their opinions and ideas in order to effect positive changes for their own development.
Mr Harsawack noted that the aim is for young people to use the appropriate measures of channeling their views and skills into public debates so that they would be inspired to play their part in shaping the future.
In the coming weeks, the young, intelligent, and enthusiastic professionals, who have taken up the challenge to become Parliamentarians, will display a number of skills and ideas, he predicted.
They are expected to highlight problems, with which they are faced and to derive appropriate outcomes.
Giving an overview of the programme was Mr Zulifikar Ally, a participant in last year's Youth Parliament. He explained that the vision of the Youth Parliament is very simple.
"It is to develop young people into mature and responsible leaders, who can be respected and admired in society for their courage and intellect," Ally stated.
The future of the National Youth Parliament is promising, not only for young people, but for Guyana as well. Therefore GUYDA has embarked upon a three-year programme to make it permanent, during which time a Secretariat will be established to monitor the programme in its entirety, Ally said.
National Youth Parliaments have been established St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Suriname, Canada and the United Kingdom.
The local Youth Parliament will be strengthened by training seminars and other programmes through a memorandum of understanding (MOU).
Youth Parliamentarians from Canada, Suriname and St. Kitts are scheduled to attend Guyana's Youth Parliament, which commences on May 28, 2003.
"Young people should not (only) be seen as a symbol of the future; they are the future, and (they) must be involved in shaping the world that they live in," Ally noted.
Guest speaker at the event was the reigning Miss Guyana Universe, Leanna Damond, who praised GUYDA's role in promoting the concept of the Youth Parliament. (SHAWNEL CUDJOE)