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Green light for Saba Youth 13+ Program

SABA—The Executive Council recently approved a proposal of the Community Development Department to create a tailor-made Saba Youth 13+ program for the age group 13-23 that promotes their development towards adulthood so they can make full use of opportunities and talents and participate independently and fully in society. This is being done together with the young people.

The Saba Youth 13+ program is the result of a covenant that was signed in 2021 by the Public Entity Saba, the Public Entity St. Eustatius, the Public Entity Bonaire, and five Dutch ministries. In this 2021 partnership agreement, the ministries and public entities endorse the values of a comprehensive approach of the youth area, because the chances for the future for young people and young adults can be increased by it.

Through the covenant, the parties want to give substance to a more intensive, comprehensive collaboration. The covenant contains recommendations: housing for young people, leisure time, poverty, youth participation, domestic violence and child abuse, education and employment. It was agreed that per island, a collaboration agenda youth 13+ would be drafted. The Dutch government is making the funding available for these local programs.

Youth partnership

Saba has drafted a 13+ agenda and has started the process to implement a number of actions for young people in the focal areas that were agreed upon in the covenant. Saba’s Youth 13+ will develop programs and activities in partnership with the youth and key stakeholders that work with the target group age 13-23.

Besides addressing the topics housing, poverty, domestic violence and child abuse, education and employment, youth participation and leisure time, the Saba program aims at promoting youth development strategies that focus on building positive relations, strengthening academics, soft and technical skills, improving health and wellbeing, cultivating trustworthy, safe spaces and offering the youths on Saba opportunities to succeed in meaningful ways.

A number of activities are being worked on. These include: setting up a Youth Community Volunteering Service Program, organizing youth entrepreneurship workshops, youth employable skills workshops, youth health and wellbeing workshops/programs, organizing a Youth Week to celebrate the youth, and to further develop the mentoring and capacity building of the Saba Youth Council.

Integral approach

Earlier in February 2023, Kemaul Lee, Community Outreach Coordinator at the Community Development Department, who coordinates the Youth 13+ program on Saba, had a meeting with the stakeholders. “During that meeting, we not only looked at the themes, but we also discussed how to move forward. It is vital to have an integral approach. There needs to be a unity to tackle the issues of the 13+ youth,” Lee said.

A local youth 13+ agreement with the stakeholders, a sort of partnership agreement, will be drafted. In the meantime, Lee is looking at setting up a special place for the youths, where they can be themselves and come together in a safe manner that appeals to them. “We are doing this in collaboration with the youth so they can say what it is that they want,” said Lee.

He explained that the stakeholders are important in the process, especially the youths themselves. The Saba Youth Council and the Student Body Council of the Saba Comprehensive School (SCS) will be frequently consulted. “Talking with the youth to get their input is important. I want to hear from them. I want to hear about their challenges. What are their needs and their ideas how to make things better. A close involvement of the youths not only gives them ownership, but it will also have a positive impact on our program. I will closely work with them to formulate a plan that we will carry out together,” said Lee.

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