Thursday, April 25, 2024

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: All hands to the ‘Y’


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The increasing violence we’re seeing in Barbados should demonstrate more than ever that none of us can afford to sit idly by and watch our country continue its slide into ruins. Furthermore, we shouldn’t complain if we aren’t prepared to be part of the solution.

No sector of society is insulated from what’s happening in other sectors, so it’s incumbent on all of us to play our part in returning Barbados to a place where our children and grandchildren can walk freely without fear of being bullied, abused, shot or otherwise harmed; where there is law and order and those who are willing to work aren’t undermined by the growing criminal element. Not to forget of course, a place that tourists and international businesses are attracted to.

I agree that part of our problem is deteriorating family life and values as well as the loss of communities and community spirit, so we must work at rebuilding these communities and giving guidance to those who are falling by the wayside. We must help them replace their wayward activites with healthy and useful ones. All this will have a positive and far-reaching effect on Barbados’ future.

It was refreshing and encouraging, therefore, to speak to the general secretary of the the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and to learn what this 134-year-old organisation is doing, under very diffcult circumstances, to respond to this need in a tangible way. The run-down apearance of the Y’s headquarters belies the sterling efforts and achievements of its staff and volunteers. Most of us would be unaware of the “Eye on the Y” courses in such skills as Autocad for the building industry, tiling, upholstery and drapery, home appliance repairs, handicraft, flower arranging, wedding accessories, plumbing and swimming, as well as academic courses such as mathematics and the sciences – all available for a modest fee.

The Y is also involved in social programmes like the Early Childhood Learning Intervention Programmes (ECLIPS) where they involve children from the nearby Greenfields neighbourhood in the use of touch type and read and spell software to develop word and sentence skills alongside touch typing abilities. A similar programme targeting teens and also offering guidance on life skills and self-improvement is planned. All these efforts are in keeping with the objective of the association which is the development of the spiritual, social, physical and intellectual well-being of the youth of Barbados.

I was really impressed with the pristine condition of the playing field on the property. It’s used by various sports groups. The safe areas of the old building are used by church groups, ballroom dancing clubs and others conducting worthwhile activities, while a newer building constructed in the 1990s houses a child care business.

The Y receives some support from Government; Republic Bank (Barbados) Ltd which made a special donation under its Power To Make A Difference programme, enabling the organisation to remove any encumbrances from the YMCA property; Scotiabank, which makes a significant annual contribution, and the City of Bridgetown Cooperative Credit Union, which makes its car park available as a fundraising entity. About 19 other entities/individuals also assist with contributions in cash or kind.

But just think how much more could be achieved if corporate Barbados, NGOs and all of us as individuals lent a helping hand to construct the new facility which, according to the YMCA president, would “provide for the needs, not only of today’s clientele, but reach forward to the demands and expectations of the oncoming decades”. The facility will include a swimming pool, gym, sports arena, offices, auditorium, pavilion and cafe.

The architectural firm Design Collaborative has made a significant contribution by providing drawings, while Government has demonstrated its support by waiving Town Planning fees and duties and taxes on materials. What is needed now is a concerted effort on the part of us all to make this plan a reality in the interest of our country’s future.

• Dr Frances Chandler is a former independent senator. Email



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