the Hon D. Neletha I. Butterfield, MBE, JP, MP: Minister for Culture and Social Rehabilitation

Fellow Bermudian;

A very wise man once said:
“There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society, with a large segment of people in that society, who feel that they have no stake in it; who feel that they have nothing to lose. People who have a stake in their society, protect that society, but when they don't have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it.”

That wise man was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It’s eerie how such words of yesterday’s wisdom seem so prophetic of today’s Bermuda. Look all around this small island. You can readily see the evidence of people who feel they have no stake in their own country. Where does a stake in one’s country begin? It begins from childhood – when you are accepted into the family fold – or not. It seems Bermuda’s family fold may have disowned our recent generations. We, as a country, have not seemed to nurture our youth or provide viable structure and direction to allow them to foster that feeling of acceptance . . . that feeling of a stake in “The Rock”.

The following is a synopsis of one idea to promote such a feeling of belonging among our young Bermudians, while also promoting productivity from an early age. Consider that our youth and our elderly constitute the largest segments of our population. By bringing the two groups together, we can bridge the vast gap, provide an outlet for both, and ensure certain valuable and practical knowledge concerning our unique trade culture will not be lost.

This idea will serve many families who have young children (especially boys) and who are concerned with providing them activities to discourage idleness. Looking forward, this idea may also become a welcome relief for many Bermudian tradesmen business owners who complain of the struggle to secure skilled Bermudian workers. Due to the lack thereof, they are forced to employ overseas workers – which add numerous dimensions to the socio-economic problems that exist in Bermuda today. It will be impossible to fix all problems immediately; however, we can begin to make baby steps by creating a generation of young men and women skilled in all areas of trade – masonry, carpentry, tiling, electric, plumbing, roofing, motor mechanics, etc. Then, hopefully in the near future, our Bermudian tradesmen business owners will be grateful they can finally “Buy Bermuda” with confidence.

What better way to introduce an abundance of Bermudian tradespersons than to have our older tradesmen teach our younger generation the way to do it right . . . with numerous benefits to the teacher, the apprentice, and our society. Older and or retired tradesmen can put their golden years to good use by being a good role model and teaching a few old school values. Thus gaining a relationship of respect that would endear the younger generation to the older, and, ultimately, pass on some valuable tricks of the trade.

The Junior Minister of Culture and Social Rehabilitation was adamant a program already exists within the ministry. Upon investigation, a similar program does exist in the form of the Community Education / Summer Internship Program. However, confirmed by the words of the program manager, the program caters mainly to the higher public school system, is not otherwise advertised, and has a limited capacity due to limited staff and funding. Further, it is usually oversubscribed. This means many interested youth must be turned away. The program manager further suggested a parent be diligent in finding an alternate source if their child was one of the many that could not be accommodated. Although thankful for the existence of the program and the great job being done by the staff, such an incidence of supply not meeting this demand should only be a temporary incidence – until the problem can be pursued and solved. During this critical time, we must not be complacent in leaving the aspirations of any interested and impressionable youth unresolved. For whatever reason, some parents may not go the extra step to find industrious activity for their children. And we cannot expect the youth to have the determination to pursue such activity themselves – That’s just not realistic. Therefore, it’s the job of the entire community to push industrious activity as hard as drugs are being pushed – make it readily available and within their grasp.

Maybe funding can be allocated to the existing program in order to improve its capacity, balancing the equation, and filling the need. Or there can be introduced a more substantial system that is targeted specifically to the trades to accommodate all interested youth (ten and up). Such a system may be facilitated by hosting tri-yearly training camps aimed to introduce the youth to diverse trades – enabling them to discover their niche. Thereafter, pair them with acceptable, experienced tradesmen who are willing to pass their knowledge down to the next generation. (Of course, screening will be necessary to ensure the safety of all involved.) This may be accomplished by introducing an agency that acts as a liaison between interested youth and available skilled tradesmen. This would be very beneficial throughout the whole year (especially during the holidays) to keep the kids motivated by a fun and industrious activity and, thus, off the streets. Additionally, current tradesmen business owners may be targeted to offer their practical experience to the youth. Hopefully, they would be interested. If so, invite them to join – maybe offering some incentive for their willingness to be instrumental in the cause (e.g. a stipend or a tax break).

If you concur with this idea, please sign this petition. In seeking the attention of the relevant authority, the Hon D. Neletha I. Butterfield, MBE, JP, MP: Minister for Culture and Social Rehabilitation, let’s pray this idea will be given much consideration.

In the spate of rampant violent activity over the recent years (involving kids as young as 12 years old), we must do something to occupy the time, minds, and hands of the impressionable youth. Kids with something positive to do are far less likely to antagonize others or get involved in criminal activity.

Further, the younger a child becomes involved in such industrious activity; the easier it will be to further direct their path to becoming an asset to their society. Let’s acknowledge the present state of our island, yet maintain the foresight to effect change for tomorrow. We must begin young, when such an impression can still be made. Thanks and blessings for your signature of acknowledgement . . .

We, the undersigned, call on the Ministry of Culture and Social Rehabilitation to revamp the existing youth trade program (aforementioned) or to introduce a more substantial one such as previously described.

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The Viable Trade Program For Bermuda's Youth petition to the Hon D. Neletha I. Butterfield, MBE, JP, MP: Minister for Culture and Social Rehabilitation was written by MajahDai and is in the category Culture at GoPetition.