As Caribbean youth continue to grapple with rising unemployment and resisting the lures of engaging in criminal activity for economic gain, 60 more youth in St. Kitts are now better equipped for the world of work.

The youth recently graduated from the inaugural United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-sponsored A Ganar sports for youth development program, which is the first of its kind in the Caribbean and Central America to support youth who are still enrolled in school

J'nievlyn Kelly of Washington Archibald High School, receives her prize for being the Most Improved student in the Employability Skills Training.

J’nievlyn Kelly of Washington Archibald High School, receives her prize for being the Most Improved student in the Employability Skills Training.

The inaugural St. Kitts model targeted 4th year high school students and youth at vocational centers across the island as a means of supplementing the secondary school curriculum. In addition to 20 hours of community service, youth received employability skills training as well as technical skills training in air-conditioning and refrigeration; auto-mechanics; computer applications; office procedures; hairdressing and hospitality among others.

The graduates, who were honored during a graduation ceremony held at the Bird Rock Hotel earlier this month, brought the total number of program graduates to 465, with 317 either currently employed or pursuing further studies.

A Ganar St. Kitts, which is offered in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Partners of the Americas, is just one of several youth development initiatives USAID employs to address increasing levels of youth unemployment and crime across the Eastern and Southern Caribbean.

USAID’s Mission Director for USAID Eastern and Southern Caribbean, Christopher Cushing, told the graduation gathering the A Ganar model exemplified the global partnerships pursued by USAID to bring meaningful change to the lives of individuals.

Graduates, who had the opportunity to showcase some of their creative talents, also received words of encouragement during the feature address by Ervin Welsh, a young successful entrepreneur and A Ganar facilitator. He advised: “We are not celebrating the end of something here, but the starting point. It is the starting point at which you will implement all that you have learnt.”

To rousing applause from their peers and parents, the youth were also awarded for being the most outstanding and most improved in the Employability Skills Training and Technical Skills Training modules. Trophies were also presented to the Most Outstanding A Ganar participants from the program’s inception in 2010 to 2014.

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