As the election seasons heats up across the Virgin Islands, many seasoned followers of the local political process are readying themselves for several exciting races. However, others are taking this unique opportunity to help young Virgin Islanders understand the importance of democracy in action.
Genevieve Whitaker, a human rights activist, attorney, and youth advocate is committed to helping prepare students for their future civic involvement. To achieve this goal, Ms. Whitaker formed the Virgin Islands Youth Advocacy Coalition, Inc., also known as VIYAC so that like-minded people and organizations could join her in teaching students about our political system.
Ms. Whitaker was soon joined by Akeel St. Jean, A Stetson University Student Government Association President; a student of Political Science & Economics, Dominic Latty, a graduate of Brown University where he received dual Bachelor’s degrees in Africana Studies & Computer Science; and, Amaris Chew, a graduate of The University of the Virgin Islands, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences, who as the UVI Class of 2009 Commencement Speaker, took two out of three categories for the winning team of the 2009 UVI Model U.N. Competition.
“One of the key elements about VIYAC is that it is youth led and dedicated to educating young voters who have not been full participants in the electorate and legislative systems,” states Whitaker, “VIYAC’s curriculum includes civic education, voter literacy and leadership development training. Our goal is to provide young adults with the information and skills needed to identify the issues, influence public policy decisions and become a more effective participant in the democratic governance of the Virgin Islands.”
Inspired by the motto: “Moving valiantly forward, inspiring our fellow youth to succeed”, VIYAC’s structure includes a Steering Committee that consists of advisors and experts in various fields who design training programs, and coordinators who carry out the goals of the respective programs and initiatives.
VIYAC features programs in youth literacy, civic education, human rights and youth political participation as well as a youth radio show. Unique to VIYAC, it also has programs for youth sports advocacy and youth sport ambassadorships.
Initiatives started this year include a Youth Agenda Report Card, a VI Youth Perspective on the Proposed Constitution and a Youth Bill of Rights.
The following is a list of internet resources where you can find out more about VIYAC: