President Obama’s Visit to Jamaica: An Opportunity for Youth Civic Engagement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Kathryn Schoenberger in Washington DC, 202 464-6979

Washington, DC (April 9, 2015)

President Barack Obama’s visit to Jamaica during April 8–9, 2015 marks a crucial event. Not only is this the first presidential trip to Jamaica since 1982, but with the visit comes the opportunity for the nation to discuss the ways in which youth civic engagement can be an enabler for political, social and economic participation, as well as to examine current opportunities and challenges for youth development.

On April 9, the US president will have bilateral talks with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, as well as hold a summit with the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community and lay a wreath to honour veterans of World War I and World War II.

Of special note is that President Obama will host the President’s Town Hall forum with Caribbean and Regional Young Leaders. World Learning believes that this presidential visit is an opportunity for charting the way forward as the Caribbean seeks to respond to the increasing challenges of high levels of unemployment—including rising joblessness among youth—as well as crimes across the community. In 2014, unemployment among Jamaicans 14 to 24 years old was approximately 35 percent, more than twice the national rate.

World Learning International contends that youth engagement, empowerment, and capacity building are essential for building a more equitable and sustainable Caribbean. Over the past four years, World Learning through its Caribbean Grant and Solicitation and Management (CGSM) have worked with NGOs to target those most-at-risk for HIV in Jamaica and the Bahamas. Through various targeted interventions, the CGSM project has offered platforms for youth to be empowered in their own development. By working with organizations such as Children First Agency, Rise Life Management Services, Bahamas Urban Youth Development Center and EVE for Life, World Learning’s model has been to support youth and encourage them to be a part of their own change and foster a sense of civic engagement.

We therefore encourage Caribbean leaders to see the opportunities of the future and continue to empower youths with the skills, attitudes, and values necessary to contribute in shaping a sustainable present and future.

President Obama’s visit to the region concludes with the Summit of the Americas in Panama.

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