Exploring the Roles of our Youth
By: Anna Marie Kennedy
Level 111 student
Roncalli Central High, Port Saunders, NF
The youth of our province have the right to voice their opinions: more importantly, the leaders of our province realize that – they realize that our youth are the leaders of tomorrow and that they have ideas which are important in the development of our economy today. Cabinet Ministers and business leaders of Newfoundland and Labrador supported this idea by listening to the concerns and ideas of our youth during RuralEXPO 2001.
RuralEXPO 2001 was a conference and showcase of the best of business, culture, and community in Newfoundland and Labrador. A youth conference was held in conjunction with RuralEXPO as one of the four key components.
According to Diana Cose, youth conference coordinator for RuralEXPO 2001, "the weekend includes a main conference program, a rural business showcase and exhibition, Community Economic Development (CED) Awards, and the youth conference. The youth conference of RuralEXPO 2001 was designed to explore the role of youth in the past, present, and future of this province. Approximately 100 representatives between the ages of 15 and 29 were selected to attend."
Diana also noted, "the objectives of the Youth Conference Program are to integrate existing networks of youth, to expand their understanding of CED, and to celebrate success in youth involvement."
The Honorable Roger Grimes, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador stated, "I am very enthused and excited to be here. We're doing this because we traveled all over and found that people were concerned because their children weren't being heard. It also seemed to be a problem that young people had good ideas but didn't know how to go about acting on them. Here they have the chance to rub shoulders with motivators and business people, who have ‘gone through the ropes' before."
The Honourable Roger Grimes went on to say, "Basically this is about building futures for our youth right here in their own towns. Some people do want to move, but others want to stay. They need to have something meaningful to do here so that they can stay and build a home, buy a car, and/or raise a family. This is a chance for our youth to meet with Cabinet Ministers and business leaders to tell us what they want to do in their part of the province. As well, this is a chance for the youth to meet other young people they wouldn't normally have the chance to meet."
Youth of the Northern Peninsula did take an active role in representing the youth of their region. Along with other youth of the province, they had the opportunity to discuss issues face-to-face with Provincial Cabinet Ministers in a youth roundtable session. As well, they had the opportunity to participate in sessions on community economic development, celebrate with winners of the first CED awards, and learn from dynamic speakers, delegates, and exhibitors throughout all RuralEXPO 2001 events.
David Feaver, Newfoundland Regional Coordinator for Global Vision, Junior Team Canada noted, "being part of this conference has given me a chance to meet students from across the province and introduce them to Global Vision and Junior Team Canada. All students were very interested in the RuralEXPO program and very much impressed all Government Officials. I personally enjoyed all sessions and enjoyed meeting these students. All students performed well."
He went on the say, "students of the Northern Peninsula were quite involved with the conference. It was great to see students from the Northern Peninsula speak on behalf of all youth delegates at the final presentation. Great job to all students involved!"
Derek Staubitzer, Department of Industry Trade and Rural Development explained, "one of the best aspects of my job is working with youth. When I meet with groups like FINALY!(Futures In Newfoundland And Labrador's Youth) I come away more inspired than ever that we will be a wealthy province in the short-term. Our message is getting out– youth can stay here and do very well. I hear this from more and more youth. More importantly, youth want to be part of Economic Development of the province."
Dawn Marie Patey, Youth delegate of RuralEXPO 2001, states "it introduced me to things happening in Newfoundland and Labrador that I didn't know about. It also helped me see how I can get involved. Now I realize that as long as I have an education I can stay here to work. You don't have to move away."
Diana Cose, Youth Conference Coordinator finished by saying, "I am delighted with how well the RuralEXPO 2001 Youth Forum unfolded. It was a pleasure to assist in bringing so many young people together from all regions of the province and watch as they shared experiences, learned from each other and generated so much energy! This energy continued throughout the entire event, particularly during the Youth Roundtable session when both the youth and ten Provincial Cabinet Ministers welcomed the opportunity to engage in open and frank discussion about issues affecting the group. The youth of this Province have so much to offer and given an opportunity like RuralEXPO 2001 they were successful in reminding the present leaders that the future of our Province is in very capable hands. I would like to say a special thank you to the youth delegates participating in the Youth Forum of RuralEXPO 2001 and making it such a great event. I am very proud!"
The youth Conference of RuralEXPO 2001 was designed to help reduce barriers traditionally created by geographics and demographics. It was designed to expand youth's understanding of CED and to celebrate success in youth involvement. The conference provided networking opportunities and encouraged the building of partnerships. The message that people want to get out is that there are futures for the youth of Newfoundland and Labrador waiting patiently, right here.