One of the highlights of Her Excellency’s work week in Tobago was her visit to the Roxborough Police Youth Club. The President toured the extensive facility which includes a Kindergarten, and an Elderly Activity Centre and addressed the young members of the Club.

See the transcript of her address and pictures of the visit below:

Speech to the Roxborough Police Youth Club

The air here this afternoon is suffused with energy, conviction and hope. The three essential ingredients that underpin any effort to “foster the growth of empowered, well-rounded and disciplined youth” and just as I sense that among you, I sensed it among the leadership and members of your fellow club from Moriah who I met with this morning.

The Roxborough Police Youth Club has exemplified for over nearly thirty years the highest standards of the Police Youth Club network which boasts 114 active clubs throughout Trinidad and Tobago. The many local and international accolades bestowed upon you over the years, including the Hummingbird Medal (Silver) in 2012 speak volumes about the exceptional work ethic and high standard of operations here, and the significant impact that you have made on your community, island, Trinidad and Tobago and beyond.

I congratulate first of all the young people for seeing the wisdom of being a part of what is essentially a service organisation – service to country.  By extension, I congratulate their parents who may have been influential in showing them the light and who facilitate their participation in the many worthwhile activities and support their efforts to put themselves and others on the right path. I also commend the parents in their own right. Their constituting a separate but related entity which supports the work of the Police Youth Club speaks to their dedication to do their part in enhancing the quality of life of their society. And last but not least, I applaud your leaders who by their living example, astute guidance and dogged commitment have shepherded thousands of Tobago’s young citizens through the most vulnerable though formative period of their lives – mentorship in a nutshell.

In his kind letter of invitation to this afternoon’s proceedings, your leader, Collis Hazel said that the Roxborough Police Youth Club would be honoured to have me visit, but the honour is all mine. But it is not all honour, it is also pride and joy brought on by all that I have seen and heard today. Your achievements and initiatives are indeed impressive but they are merely a reflection of the spirit of the collective – a spirit born out of a sense of responsibility for community, service to others and an understanding of your role as the future of our nation.

Police Youth Clubs can be, and in fact often are, agents of change and their service is desperately needed given the current social and economic difficulties with which we individually and as a nation grapple. Our young people today contend with challenges that either did not exist or were far less acute only a few years ago:pervasive, violent crime, a bleak job market, safe navigation of social media among others.

Perhaps former Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs summed it up best when he said that police youth clubs offer an alternative for young people in a society bombarded with images glorifying anti-social behaviour, crime, drugs and violence and form part of a strategic, positive partnership between police and the people resulting in the reduction of crime, violence, insecurity and community decay.

Looking at some of the programmes your Youth Club provides, I see an interesting and purposeful mix of activities and offerings spanning early childhood through adolescence to young adulthood and beyond, all designed to cater to a wide range of needs and interests. The Roxborough Early Childhood Centre allows you to influence and shape young and malleable minds – a great and grave responsibility since what is experienced at that stage of life would likely determine the character of the adult that would be unleashed on our society. The Elderly Activity Centre is of personal interest to me – what do you have for an old lady to do? I like my ballroom dancing you know! For the younger and stronger you have the steel orchestra, the football competition and a gym and fitness centre. Skills training and personal development round out your offerings. From infants to seniors, and every stage in between, you have considered and accommodated the needs of your community.

Knowingly or unwittingly you are living the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi and “being the change you wish to see in the world”.

It is my sincere hope that as members, leaders and faithful supporters of the Roxborough Police Youth Club you continue steadfastly on your mission to lead the change and lead the charge as we together surge towards that ultimate finish line – a disciplined, tolerant and productive Trinidad and Tobago.

Thank you.