Young people to “shadow” MPs

POSTED: 08/16/11 11:51 AM

GREAT BAY – St. Maarten Youth Council Program Director and Coordinator for the St. Maarten Youth Parliament Connie Francis, met President of Parliament drs. Gracita Arrindell on Monday morning to brief her on the Youth Parliament which was established since 1997. The body has lapsed twice and was reinitiated in 2008 and again in 2011. To date 19 people have registered to be members and the training program will resume September 1.
Francis has embarked upon an awareness campaign starting this week in order to increase the number of participants to 25. The age range is 13 – 25. The young people will be exposed to leadership training, parliamentary procedure, public speaking and a host of other life training activities.
“I would like to welcome them and introduce the young parliamentarians to the workings of Parliament. This is a very important process in developing life skills which will benefit them in their further studies and at a later stage in career development. I think it is very important for the community and the young people in particular to understand the role and functioning of parliament in the lives of the people. It is totally different than what we had in the past under the Island Council as an island territory and I encourage them to attend the public meetings during school holidays or after school and also visit our website,” Arrindell stated in a release after the meeting.
“Parliament is co-legislator, and can also submit initiative laws which impact the lives of every individual and the social fabric of society. Parliament needs to live in the minds of the young people and community and this process of educating our populace will be a long-term one,” Arrindell added.
The President of Parliament also extended an invitation to the St. Maarten Youth Parliament to visit the House of Parliament in October where all parliamentarians will be present to welcome them and give them an introduction to parliamentary procedure. Arrindell has also offered to set-up an annual program called “Shadow Your Member of Parliament (MP)” which will run for a month. The first run of the exercise is tentatively set for November 1.
“MPs will be paired with members of the St. Maarten Youth Parliament for a one-month period, and the young person gets the opportunity to learn the daily life of a parliamentarian, and exactly what the job entails. First-hand experience is very important. An evaluation will be carried out after the one-month ‘Shadow Your MP,’ program. This type of program will further enhance the training that these young people have received from the Youth Parliament during the course of their participation in the program,” Arrindell explained on Monday.
Francis was given a tour of the House of Parliament at the end of the meeting.

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