Another featured activity of the annual Local Government & Community Development Month celebration took place on Tuesday, November 20, 2012. On that day the island’s fourteen (14) youth mayors paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister The Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller and had lunch with the Minister and other Local Government officials.
During the courtesy call the Prime Minister spoke to the youths breifly addressing some of the challenges she has faced as Prime Minister as well as the current view of politics as being dirty and nasty. ‘But, she added, ‘ if good people stay away from politics it will remain dirty and nasty’. She also profferred that politicians need to set good examples by being civil to each other.
Despite the negatives however, Mrs Simpson Miller was encouraged by the presence of the youths as it was evidence of their interest and participation in the affairs of their communities, she was sure that they would effect positive changes in leadership, she added.
The youth mayors each got the chance to address the Prime Minister and they justified her confidence in them. Many spoke of the reaction of their fellow students to their appointments and the sense of responsibility and importance that they feel as youth mayors. They aslo spoke of their commitment to being shining examples for their peers.
John Powell of Black River assured the Prime Minister that indeed the future was secure in their hands as youth have the ‘innate propensity’ to fulfil the dreams of a better Jamaica. While Shenneil James who was installed as youth mayor for Montego Bay last year, broke down in tears as she told the Prime Minister that she was her inspiration and Serceia Brown of Mandeville said she was inspired to change her career goal from that of being a lawyer to being coming Prime Minister of Jamaica some day.
The Youth Council concept began in 1995 as a means sensitizing the youth of Jamaica about the operations of Local Government through the Local Authorities. To make the concept more meaningful the youth Mayors get a practical feel for council operations by acting as councillors for a day.
Since 2001 the youth Mayors have been invited to a special luncheon with the sitting Minister of Local Government as well as to pay a courtesy call on the Governor General or the Prime Minister during Local Government Month.