By anguillian October 10, 2016 13:35





Front Row: L-R: Dr. Ronya Foy-Connor, Minister Evans McNiel Rogers, Mrs. Sarah Westcott-Williams, Chairwoman of St. Maarten’s Parliament with assistant and Anguilla’s Chief Minister Victor Banks

More than sixty teenage delegates and a number of officials from Anguilla, French St. Martin, and Dutch St. Maarten, met at the 2016 Youth Consultation at the Teachers’ Resource Centre in Anguilla on Wednesday, October 5. One of the main aims was the need to assist with the design of a HIV/AIDs response with respect to sexual reproductive health services and programmes for young people.

The consultation was a collaborative effort involving the Anguilla Community Action Network (ACAN), the French St. Martin Cite Scolaire LGT Robert Weinum and the St. Maarten AIDS Foundation and its Youth Wing.

The consultation focused on four topics that teenagers have indicated as major sexual reproductive issues creating societal challenges. These are teenage pregnancies and the consequences; taboos associated with teens who are sexually active including how to talk to parents about sexual reproductive health issues; and gender identity and hearing from someone living with HIV. The topics were identified by St. Maarten teens at the 2015 Youth Consultation.

Among the Government officials at the consultation were Anguilla’s Chief Minister, Mr. Victor Banks; the Minister of Social Development and Education, Mr. Evans McNiel Rogers; the Chair Woman of the St. Maarten Parliament, Sarah Wescott-Williams and the St. Maarten Minister of Education, Silveria Jacobs.
Mr. Rogers was elated by the large number of young people in attendance. “It goes to show that a lot of work has been done regionally and internationally in terms of dispelling the whole notion about the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS,” he said.

He continued: “I am pleased to say that, in terms of the transmission and the number of new cases over the years, the disease is continuing to decrease. I attribute this to the notion that the young people are being educated about the disease. The people of Anguilla, St. Martin/St. Maarten are one and whatever disease is in territory is in the other. We travel between the islands every half an hour…Involving the youth in this type of consultation is emphasising the preventative action as opposed to the curative or treatment aspects of HIV.”


Front Row: St. Maarten Minister of Education, Ms. Silveria Jacobs (far left); Mr. John Lake (3rd from left) and others

Mrs. Sarah Wescott-Williams was delighted to be at the consultation having served as the Regional Authorising Officer for the HIV/AIDS Programme for many years. “As such, the territories were able to finalise the programme for the combating of HIV/AIDS throughout the region as well as make a compelling case for the European Union to continue the programme for combating HIV/AIDS in the region,” she told her listeners. “I contribute that to the tireless work of many persons. I want to mention Mr. John Lake as one of those persons… I am extremely pleased to see the teenagers stepping up to the plate and being part of the discussions and consultations to bring their message and concerns to the authorities of the three islands: St. Martin/St. Maarten and Anguilla. It is a wonderful feeling and a wonderful place to be.”

The St. Maarten Minister of Education, Ms. Jacobs, spoke about her Ministry’s collaborations on several matters with representatives of the three islands. “This is another opportunity for consultations with our youth on such an important topic that not only touches education, but health, and ensures good health for our youth moving forward,” she stated. “Having the young people discuss, dialogue, and come up with recommendations, and having them as ambassadors to go back to their peers and share that information is, I think, a powerful thing.”

A press release on the consultation stated in part: “The day-long consultation is intended to brainstorm and garner feedback about the four topics from a youth perspective and then use that feedback to better reach and influence this and future generations. The consultation is organised in a manner that will stimulate good discussions and to leave a lasting impression for all involved.

“One of the key outcomes will be the creation of country-specific documents that can be used as guidelines by the three Governments and non-governmental organisations to tackle teen pregnancy, gender identity, cross-generational sexual reproductive health discussion, and living with HIV from a teen’s perspective.

“The comprehensive reporting on each topic will allow the creation of an in-depth document that will highlight, among other things, current positive and negative trends within the teen world, activities that impact attitudes, intervention possibilities and behavioural change suggestions.”

By anguillian October 10, 2016 13:35


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