Young adolescents, many accompanied by their parents, turned up in large numbers for the official opening of The Spot youth center on Friday, September 15, all eager to see Saba’s new teen drop in and after-school clubs center in The Bottom.
“We have envisioned The Spot as a safe haven, a sanctuary where teenagers can find refuge from life’s challenges, and where they can connect, learn and grow together,” said Community Outreach Coordinator Kemaul Lee of the Community Development Department of the Public Entity Saba.
“Our mission is simple, yet profound: to provide a space where teenagers can drop in and find support, inspiration and opportunities. Where they can unwind, engage in meaningful activities and find guidance from mentors. Our after-school clubs will be the heartbeat of The Spot. Learning should be fun and engaging, and here, our youth will have the chance to explore their interests, discover new talents and develop life skills that will serve them well beyond their teenage years,” said Lee.
The Spot is an initiative of the Community Development Department of the Public Entity Saba, but came about in collaboration with the youth themselves. Actually, the name The Spot was an idea that came up in a meeting with the Student Body of the Saba Comprehensive School (SCS), explained Lee.
The Spot should not only strengthen the youths, but also the community as a whole, creating a “ripple effect.” “We aim to nurture responsible, compassionate and confident young leaders who will contribute positively to society. The bonds formed here will extend beyond these walls, strengthening the fabric of our community,” said Lee.
The Spot is housed at the compound behind the Anglican Rectory in The Bottom. It consists of two main buildings and a smaller building. One main building is dedicated to the youth clubs, where, among other things, the youth will engage in arts, music and culture. The second main building houses the teen lounge and gaming room. The smaller, third building is for the administration, but can also serve as a meeting room or quiet space.
Youth Recognition Awards
After Lee’s welcome word, it was time to announce the winners of the Youth Recognition Awards. The candidates for the awards were brought forward and voted on by the community. Kadesha Daniel won the Youth Stewardship for helping to care for her mother from the age of nine and for caring into giving back to the community.
The Youth Business, Employment and Social Enterprise went to Cheyenne Hassell who has been doing women's hair and has started creating beaded bracelets as a small business, showing her creativity, initiative and bravery in stepping out and trying different branches of businesses. She is the youngest artist to have joined the Handmade on Saba collective.
Vernisha Robinson won the Youth Leadership Award. She has been a member of the Saba Youth Council and the Leo’s Club, sings Calypso, participated in several cultural events, is very vocal, takes lead in activities with the youth and is someone who young people look up to.
The Youth Community Service went to Bernardo Baker, an enthusiastic volunteer in various outreach settings who organizes activities to involve his peers in voluntary work alongside himself and who is always willing to offer a lending hand.
Neveah Peterson won the Youth Mentorship Award for always being a positive influence, especially in working with children, willing to help out by promoting activities that teach the youth life morals. She was described as a talkative, outgoing person who knows how to draw in her audience.
Special mention was made during the award ceremony of the Youth Mentorship Program. Coordinated by Carol Skinner and Rayann Ramdin, this mentorship program was the first of its kind for Saba through a collaboration between the Saba Comprehensive School and EC2, together with the Public Entity Saba, with as the main purpose the support of at-risk youth.
Sportsmanship, art and culture
In the categories Youth Sportsmanship and Youth Art and Culture, there were a male and female winner Alina Smith, the female winner of the Youth Sportsmanship Award, was honored for her support, positive attitude in sports and towards her teammates and always being respectful towards her coaches.
Sergio Hughes, the winner of the Youth Sportsmanship, overall is very passionate about sports, especially basketball and volleyball, while making time to do his school work.
The Youth Art and Culture Awards went to Ysora Smith and Tyler Johnson. Ysora is known for her creativity and unique work whereby she expresses her feelings through art, displaying her experiences with tough times in life and her kind character.
Tyler is especially known for his craft of carnival costume making. He has designed and organized costumes for various editions of the Saba Summer Festival and showcased his designs in carnival parades in Anguilla and St. Maarten.
After the award ceremony, the youths and parents present at the official opening of The Spot eagerly went inside the buildings to see for themselves what the new youth center is about. Many compliments could be overheard. Lee in particular highlighted the good work of Jalen Robinson, the activity coordinator who played an instrumental role in creating The Spot, as well as Bae Durand who did the mural in the gaming room, and the many teens who volunteered in getting the new youth center ready.