Empowering young people
The National Youth Policy sets out the Government’s plan to empower and engage Bermuda's young people through 2026 while providing a unified approach to tackle issues they are facing and providing them with the support to have positive and productive futures.
The policy aims to support young people between the ages of 14 and 24, as this is often understood as a period of transition from childhood dependence to adulthood independence.
Young people are vital, social, cultural, economic and political development agents. Knowing as much as we can about the young people in our families, neighbourhoods and throughout the island is the first step towards understanding their needs and concerns.
Seeking to grasp the issues the youth face in Bermuda, and looking at existing data and the diverse ways they already participate within the local community can build a more meaningful dialogue with our young people.
Understanding the experiences of young people aged 14 to 24 is particularly important for those in that age bracket who often feel that, as a group, their issues and opinions are taken less seriously by older people, government agencies and elected officials. Listening to and working with young people representing their interests strengthens our community and helps to deliver many positive outcomes that parents, educators and the wider community want to see throughout the island.
Participation and engagement by more younger people can and will result in fresh and constructive decisions that work for all those involved.
The purpose of Bermuda’s National Youth Policy is to put in place clear goals and objectives to develop and empower Bermuda's youth. Eight goals were identified, focusing on safeguarding, education, antisocial behaviour, employment, sport, health, civic engagement and diversity.
As the saying goes, what gets measured, gets improved. Lead and lag indicators are the way to measure progress.
Lead indicators are forward-looking and identify the early signs that the policy is on track to meeting its goals. For example, when Ernest Peets, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport, recently announced the National Youth Policy working group, a vital goal of the policy was met, indicating that the Government is on track.
At the same time, lag indicators measure the present results of past efforts. In other words, lag indicators allow the working group and the public to know whether the policy’s goals are getting accomplished.
The working group is responsible for producing annual progress reports and collecting data setting out young people’s position in Bermuda. The NYP working group is committed to strengthening existing partnerships and forming new collaborations with stakeholders across government and community organisations.
For any policy to be effective and successful, it must be owned by all those concerned and, accordingly, publication takes place after extensive consultation with all relevant stakeholders.
Via the National Youth Policy, we can support young people to participate in society and become part of the solution to their problem — from improving services delivered by the Government and social agencies to guiding authorities when making public decisions. Our youth become active agents in developing policies and legislation that pave the way for justice, equity and a secure future for the generation who will have to live with the decisions we make today and which will affect them in the years to come.
• Arianna Hodgson is a government senator and the Junior Minister for Labour, Finance and Health. The National Youth Policy website can be found at www.youthpolicy.bm provides information and updates on its progress