PRESS RELEASE (September 06, 2021) — The St. Kitts National Youth Parliament Association (SKNYPA) is receiving high praise following the official virtual launch of its 20th-anniversary celebrations on Sunday, September 05, 2021.
Mrs. Sharalee Benjamin-Kelly, first president of SKNYPA, while a guest at the virtual launch on Sunday spoke to the success of the association. When asked what would she consider her biggest challenge as the first president of the association, Mrs. Benjamin-Kelly said “I can’t say that we really had big challenges. Fortunately for us with the work that we did with both Dr. [Geoffrey] Hanley and Mr. [Desmond Eli] Ward, we really set the foundation for the association to be able to continue and implement its mandate.
We all worked together in crafting the constitution which guided all of what we did, and we were all part of the process to bring SKNYPA to its launch and inauguration in 2001,” Mrs. Benjamin-Kelly added.
Founding father the Hon. Dr. Geoffrey Hanley, while speaking on the success of the association, said the idea came about when he attended a regional youth parliament sitting in the Bahamas and saw what was being done there. Upon his return, meetings were held with ministerial heads and the idea came to fruition for the formulation of a local youth parliament that would continually debate issues of youth interest in St. Kitts and Nevis and the wider Caribbean region.
“Shortly after we started having our parliamentary debates, and we got the full endorsement from the government who loved the idea,” Hon. Dr. Hanley said, adding that “with the assistance of Mr. Ward, he really provided us with all the information that we needed…and I am very happy that after 20 years we are now seeing a little seed that was planted blossomed into a beautiful botanical garden”.
Also speaking at the virtual launch on Sunday was Mr. Haniff Charles, chair of SKNYPA’s anniversary committee.
“We started planning for the event about seven months ago. We knew we had to create a calendar of events that were reflective of the accomplishments and successes over the past 20 years,” Mr. Charles said, adding that one of the major issues was securing financial support for the anniversary activities and events but expressed appreciation to the sponsors.
High commendation also came in from the current president of SKNYPA Ms. Patrice Harris, honorary members Mr. Dwyer Astaphan and Mr. Sam Condor, as well as the Director at the Department of Youth, Mr. Pierre Liburd.
Events for the 20th-anniversary celebrations begin Monday, September 06, 2021, at 5 p.m. with the official ceremony for the recipients of the 2nd annual Ward-Hanley Scholarship and Mentorship Programme.
The 20-day-long celebration which includes a regional panel discussion on the topic “Inspiring, Involving and Manifesting Tomorrow’s Leaders” will take place virtually on Tuesday, September 07 at 7 p.m. The panel discussion will be moderated by SKNYPA’s President, Ms. Patrice Harris, and will see youth leaders from St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Belize, Anguilla, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines on the panel.