National Youth Awards celebrates rising community stars in Trinidad and Tobago

Winners’ Circle: Youth Leaders from across Trinidad and Tobago flank Minister Shamfa Cudjoe at the National Youth Awards (Photo: Facebook @MSYAGovTT)

Hundreds flocked to the Hilton Trinidad on Saturday, September 28 for the highly-anticipated National Youth Awards.

Hosted by the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, the event celebrates young persons aged 12 to 29, who have pursued excellence and contributed to national progress in the spheres of agriculture, entrepreneurship, communications, education, sport, activism and other industries.

Celebrating young, brilliant future leaders

Many of the nominees would have worked closely with the ministry over the last year as partners in mentorship, training and peer-to-peer development with the goal of enriching their communities, cities and country.

This year’s National Youth Awards was held in the commemoration of Caribbean Youth Day.

According to Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Shamfa Cudjoe, the 24th anniversary of the awards was another perfect occasion to recognise and honour young patriots who have dedicated their time to serving our people and offered their talent towards our country’s holistic development.

Minister of Sport and Youth Development speaks at the National Youth Awards
The Minister of Sport and Youth Development Shamfa Cudjoe delivers her feature address to a packed audience. (Photo: Facebook @MSYAGovTT)

“This year’s theme is entitled ‘Confronting the Social Issues Impacting Education for an Economically Sustainable Region’,” added Minister Cudjoe, who has been leading the charge in sport and youth development for the last 17 months since she was transferred from the Ministry of Tourism.

‘Government committed to bountiful opportunities for TT youth’

Throughout this entire year, the youth movement all over the world chose to focus on education as a key tool for economic growth and sustainable development.” Cudjoe further explained.

Cudjoe, the youngest elected member of Government, asserted that the current administration was charged with the responsibility to advance the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals in Trinidad and Tobago, especially as it relates to providing quality education, employment, enhanced standard of living, and entrepreneurial opportunities for youth.

Minister Shamfa Cudjoe presents an award to one of the winners. (Photo: Facebook @MSYAGovTT)

The popular 40 Under 40 campaign – an initiative that went viral on social media which featured 40 celebrity influencers under the age of 40 – was also lauded for showing support for the upstanding and outstanding students across Trinidad and Tobago.

In the words of one awardee…

One winner, Alpha Sennon, was honoured to be included in the company of some of the top young businessmen and businesswomen for the inaugural cycle of the national programme.

“Being a part of the Youth Awards is important because it finally lent a voice to the agriculture space that I work in and shone a light on the youth that help propel our industry forward,” he said.

As the founder of WHYFARM, an organization whose global movement focuses on food security, Sennon acknowledged that the National Youth Award that he received is particularly significant to the community that he serves.

“Winning the ‘Favorite 40 Under 40 influencer”’award means quite a lot to me, but it’s also for those young folks who have the potential to be innovative farmers and ‘agri-preneurs’ but live in at-risk communities. This award represents success in spite of adversity, and symbolizes that hard work is the key to taking your passion to action,” he continued.

Earland Kent, Director of Youth in the Ministry of Sport and Youth Development (left) presents the award for “Favorite 40 Under 40 Youth Development Officer” to Candy Charles Sennon, wife of the winner, Alpha Sennon. (Photo: Facebook @MSYAGovTT)

Starting in October, the public can look out for the “Pink Reign Campaign and Community Sports” initiative, which will promote women and girls in sport.

— Article by Tenille Clarke