The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) commission has launched a special strategy to bring attention and action to issues affecting youth in the sub-region.

Called OECS-youth empowered society, or ‘OECS-yes,’ it hopes to create a movement among the youth, ensuring that young people can collaborate and use their voices to impact change.

This strategy was developed based on the need for greater attention and action to issues directly affecting OECS youth.

The goal of this initiative is to develop a youth empowered society by focusing on seven pillars crucial to young people:

• YES I Belong – Citizenship and Identity;

• YES I Earn – Employment and Entrepreneurship;

• YES I Express – Creativity and Culture;

• YES I Inherit – Environment and Sustainable Development;

• YES I Learn – Education and Training;

• YES I Matter – Child and Youth Protection and;

• YES I Move – Healthy Lifestyles.

The campaign, which was rolled out in June, will have a significant digital component, which will be led by digital marketing consultant to the OECS, Anushka Singh who noted, “This is more than just marketing to young people through social media. Our goal here is to create a movement through social media where young people can collaborate and use their voices to impact change across the region.”

A feature of this initiative will also be a digital internship programme, whereby young persons will be able to learn digital marketing skills under the leadership of Singh, while contributing to the development and execution of the online campaign.

Director General of the OECS, Dr. Didacus Jules, expressed his confidence in the innovative strategy in engaging youth from across the region for better socio-economic outcomes: “The youth demographic are increasingly playing a central role in how the social fabric and societies of the OECS will be shaped into the future.”

He added, “It is vital we empower youth to take control of their future and to harness their collective views through a range of innovative digital mediums. The shaping of this strategy involves a crowdsourcing of ideas from the youth themselves – we are inviting the youth of the region to tell us what are their aspirations, tell us what are the things that they would like to see put in place that they can take responsibility for to shape their own destiny.”

Dr. Jules underscored the importance of the initiative as he highlighted the fact that a substantial number of youth in society are at risk not only with increasing violence, but from a health perspective as it relates to lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension and further, non-natural causes of death due to accidents, murder among other things.

“Youth are the future and we have to ensure the future is safeguarded, supported, well educated, healthy, sees its own potential and has confidence in its ability to realise its aspirations,” he told the gathering at the launch in St Lucia.

Young people makes up about 40 per cent of the OECS population.