BASSETERRE, St. Kitts (Friday 14th August 2020) –Newly- elected Parliamentary Representative for Constituency One Dr. Geoffrey Hanley (opposition member) who co-founded the St.Kitts-Nevis National Youth Parliament Association (SKNYPA) is applauding the impact of such an organization on the Federation, pointing to the new Opposition Senator Dr. Joyelle Clarke who is a past member of that non-governmental, non-partisan youth organization.
On Thursday 13th August 2020, this media house interviewed both individuals minutes ahead of their first time attendance in their official capacities for the sitting of the National Assembly at Government Headquarters on Church Street.
Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas, Parliamentary Representative for Constituency Six walked with colleagues of the St.Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) that day.
Dr. Hanley, in commenting on his first day heading to parliament, said: “It is a very heartwarming feeling. I’m very overwhelmed knowing that today is the actual day when you’ll be officially sworn into Parliament where you’ll be able to make meaningful contributions and represent the people of East Basseterre, and I’m even happier when yesterday we were able to identify Dr. Joyelle Clarke on International Youth Day to serve as our senator.”
He then went on to share: “I was one of the cofounders of St.Kitts-Nevis National Youth Parliament Association and she was a member of that group so it is even a greater feeling knowing that a cause that I would have been fighting for since 1998, we are now seeing many of those seeds turn into flowers into a beautiful garden because the entire Parliament now is surrounded by persons who would have passed through my hands or even the hands of the SKNYPA group so I’m extremely proud of planting that seed in seeing the country now benefiting from all of our young professionals taking part in democracy.”
As for Dr. Clarke, she stated: “This is an exceptional moment for me and I’m truly excited to join what I think is the largest number of women and young people to ever sit in the parliament of St.Kitts and Nevis and so I welcome and embrace this opportunity to serve.”
Asked her take on the symbolism of being publicly identified on the occasion of International Youth Day (observed on 12th August annually), she replied: “It means a lot because what it says is that even the SKNLP recognizes that this is the moment to listen to the voices of the youth; not just listen and do nothing but to listen and take what they’re saying really really serious and so if I’m part of this process I’m happy.”
According to official SKNYPA information (found on its official social media page facebook.com/sknypassociation), it is non-profit, non-governmental, non-partisan youth organisation in St.Kitts geared towards being the voice for youth of the federation of St.Kitts & Nevis.
As understood, it was launched on September 13th 2001 under the motto “Equality and Justice in Nation Building.”
“The impetus to form an association was born in 1999, after Mr. Geoffrey Hanley, an officer in the Department of Youth Affairs, had earlier that year attended a regional Youth Parliament Sitting in the Bahamas. Upon his return, he held meetings with his ministerial heads and came up with the idea for the formulation of a local youth parliament that would continually debate issues of youth interest in the National Assembly chambers and then participate in regional and international forums with more experience and skill,” the write-up states.
It is also highlighted that he collaborated with Mr. Desmond Ward, the then Parliamentary Coordinator, who endorsed the idea and lent his expertise and experiences in Parliamentary protocol, debate, speech writing and legislative drafting to the success of this venture.