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Former Miss Universe to address youth forum for island conference

HLSCC - Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 at 5:19 AM

The students listen keenly as President of HLSCC Dr. Karl Dawson (at mic) briefs the media about the Youth Forum. He is flanked to his right by Conference Chair Dana Lewis Ambrose and Founder of the HIV/AIDS Foundation Dr. Ron McAnaney, and to his left by National HIV/AIDS Programme Coordinator Noelene Clarke and Acting Chief Education Officer Beverley Brathwaite.

Former Trinidadian Miss Universe Wendy Fitzwilliam will be the keynote speaker during a Youth Forum, which will form part of the Islands of the World XII Conference to be held in the Virgin Islands at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College from Tuesday 29 May to Friday 1 June.

The announcement was made by Conference Chair and Lecturer at HLSCC Dana Lewis Ambrose at a media conference on Monday 30 April at the Central Administration Building, Road Town. The Department of Education, the National HIV/AIDS Programme, and the HIV/AIDS Foundation have partnered with HLSCC as joint sponsors of the forum.

The event is slated for Thursday 31 May at 1:00 p.m. at the Eileene L. Parsons Auditorium under the theme, “Empowering our Youth Towards a Healthy and Productive Future.” It will also feature an interactive session, during which secondary school and College students in the territory will have the opportunity to ask Ms. Fitzwilliam questions on wide ranging issues that affect young people and HIV/AIDS.

Miss Universe in 1998, Ms. Fitzwilliam is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, mother and author, and currently serves as United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for HIV/AIDS and Red Cross Ambassador of Youth for the Caribbean. She also founded the Hibiscus Foundation in Trinidad and Tobago to heighten HIV/AIDS awareness and give financial assistance to children’s homes.

Ms. Wendy Fitzwilliam

President of HLSCC Dr. Karl Dawson explained that, while the conference is international in nature, the Youth Forum is designed to target young people in the Virgin Islands, with more than 400 secondary school students across the territory expected to participate in the event.

Dr. Dawson said the forum will give the youth the opportunity to address or ask questions about various areas of specific interest and concern to them, which will be recorded and made available to those who may not be able to attend themselves.

Sharing the media conference were National HIV/AIDS Programme Coordinator Noelene Clarke, Acting Chief Education Officer Beverley Brathwaite, and Founder of the HIV/AIDS Foundation Dr. Ron McAnaney.

Ms. Clarke noted that, although there are many other avenues through which young people are targeted to help them live more responsibly and make better choices, the conference will provide a rare forum where so many will be gathered at one time in the same place. She added that her department was pleased to work in tandem with the College to ensure that the event is successful and that young people come away feeling a sense of empowerment to face challenges in their personal lives, at school, or elsewhere.

Ms. Brathwaite said the Department of Education is already in contact with the various secondary schools and is optimistic that the forum will shed light on issues that are unique to the young people in the Virgin Islands.

Echoing similar sentiments, Dr. McAnaney said the HIV/AIDS Foundation is always keen to support initiatives that focus on interaction with young people, in particular when their voices can be heard in the manner in which the youth forum will bring to bear.

Several secondary school students were also present, each welcoming and speaking highly of the opportunity to be part of the forum and the positive impact it will have on young people in the territory. The students were from the Bregado Flax Educational Centre Secondary Division, BVI Technical/Vocational Institute, Cedar International School, Claudia Creque Educational Centre, Elmore Stoutt High School, and St. Georges Secondary School.

Held every two years under the auspices of the International Small Islands Studies Association, overall theme for the conference is, “Globalisation: Islands Adapting to Change.” ISISA is a voluntary, non-profit and independent organisation, which sets out to study islands and to encourage free scholarly discussion on issues affecting them.

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