In an effort to create awareness of youth involvement in local governance, the Linden Mayor and Town Council (LMTC) has appointed a junior mayor as well as junior councillors.
The intention is that they make representations for their peers in the area of youth development as well as speak for their constituencies.
Junior mayor, 18-year-old Devon Beckles, is a Fourth Form student at one of Linden’s private secondary schools, MC’s Educational Institute. The junior councillors are Fourth Form students from various secondary schools. The process of their appointment came about after the LMTC invited students from across Linden to compete for the posts.
They were each furnished with a booklet on local governance which they had to study and were tasked with completing an essay to be judged by Councillors. The programme is geared towards equipping youths with the requisite skills and knowledge needed in the Local Government arena.
One of the challenges the present Councillors face, says Mayor Waneka Arrindell, is the lack of knowledge relating to local governance. “The main aim of the programme is having continuity in leadership at the local level. It was birthed out of the struggles the Councillors faced following Local Government Elections, entering without any prior training.”
Junior mayor Beckles now meets with Mayor Arrindell twice a week, attends the Council’s monthly statutory meetings as well as social committee meetings in which he is able to raise concerns and make representations.
Beckles is currently working along with Arrindell to create a student government package which entails the framing of a student government body manual which will be presented to the Education Ministry.
He will be accompanying Arrindell to the United States Embassy on August 9 where he is expected to meet with Ambassador Perry Holloway on topics such as constituency literacy and student leadership among other topics pertinent to youth development in local governance. He was also appointed as a member of the Fourth Youth Parliament.
He told <<<INews>>> that being appointed as Linden’s junior mayor was strengthening his drive for volunteerism: “I always love to offer voluntary service that is needed to help drive development in Linden and Region 10. I am able to sit in and raise concerns and that makes me feel good.”
He related that his community, Christianburg, was experiencing garbage collection issues and he was able to raise it at the Social Committee meeting and that issue has since been resolved. The young achiever boasted of being part of the YMCA Young Challengers Youth Club and is also the Head Prefect at his school.
“Every single activity the school has, I take part in it and the school door is always open to the general public to come in and air your views,” he said.
Beckles is hoping to sit six subjects at the Caribbean Secondary Educational Certificate (CSEC) exams next year. MC’s Educational Institute will also receive $500, 000 from LMTC to embark on a project to better the lives of the students.