Remarks - Launch of the Southside Youth Success Project Drop-in Centre

24 Aug 2012

Remarks by Roberto Valent, UNRC / UNDP Resident Representative

On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), it is a true honor to be here at this official opening of the Drop-in Centre.  I take this opportunity to publicly thank the US Ambassador Mr. Thummallapaly for the excellent partnership with UNDP, the trust placed on us in advancing the noble objectives of reducing vulnerabilities and decreasing the levels of violence affecting Belizeans. 

This initiative is a critical component towards creating an enabling environment for young Belizeans, to expand their socio-economic opportunities and empowering them as citizens of Belize.    

I wish also to commend the partners, the Department of Youth Services, and the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports for allowing us to go hand-in-hand in moving forward this process.   

This centre is part of the Belize City Project, “Southside Youth Success: Pathways to employment for young men at-risk of joining gangs”, being funded by the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), State Department, United States of America.  This project is being implemented over a two year period through the Department of Youth Services. The total project funding is US$220,000 the major part of which is being provided by CARSI.

The Centre is being opened to: 1) Serve at-risk out of school young men 14 to 17 years old, from Southside Belize City; 2) Provide a space for young men to socialize and learn; 3) Provide training in life and employability skills; 4) Provide certificates to those who complete the training program; and 5) Provide apprenticeship opportunities enabling employment and entrepreneurship.

The overall objective of the Centre is to work with YOU –  young men – Promoting standards of excellence and discipline that support you in developing yourselves and your contributions to self and Belize…in promoting a positive path to adulthood.

In addition to having a safe place to meet other young men of your age in fun activities, you can also expect to receive counseling, training, and support in getting an apprenticeship and / or job placement.

Let me conclude by expressing my congratulations and thanks to the following partners that have contributed to this effort so far: Belize Tourism Board, The Belize City Council, Ministry of Education and other partners of the business community including the media, as they will be called upon to support in the spirit of ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ the fourth result of this project which is to provide the young men with opportunities for practicing vocational skills as entrepreneurs or future employees.

I thank you on behalf of UNDP for being here today.