Always someone who is willing volunteer his service, Devon Beckles, the 18-year-old newly appointed Linden Youth Mayor, is calling on his peers to become more involved in volunteerism since it would not only give them much-needed experience, but they would be involved in the development of the mining town.
“One of the biggest issues is lack of youths offering voluntary service. There is a great amount of voluntary service that is needed, and youths would not offer any because everything is money,” young Beckles told the Sunday Stabroek in a recent interview.
He pointed out that by volunteering, young people will receive experience and they can be afforded the opportunity to participate and be involved in face-to-face communication as opposed to social media, which offers limited beneficial interaction.
Beckles is of the opinion that his recent appointment and those of junior councillors will see youth better represented and it would be easier for the council to understand the needs of young people and get them more involved in local democracy.
The youth mayor plans to focus on what he described
as the “building of youth minds, their morals, self-esteem, integrity, developing their leadership skills and improving their communication skills.” While he did not go into details as to how he would achieve that tall order, he pointed out that it would not be a problem for him to meet youths as he is president of the YMCA Young Challengers Youth Club and has been volunteering his service through the club in the youth community.
The doors of the club will now be open to youths on Thursday afternoons and for seniors on Sunday afternoons and they can share some of their concerns with Beckles, who will take same to the council. He also noted that the several junior councillors are available and they also can be engaged.
Explaining his mandate, Beckles said he along with the junior councillors will attend the council’s monthly statutory meetings and also social meetings.
“I am able to sit at the meetings and make contributions and represent the youths as a whole,” he said.
And even though he is the youth mayor, Beckles said he would not only focus on issues affecting youths but on the community as a whole and he gave the example of a garbage problem in Christianburg, which he took to the council; the problem has since been resolved.
The Linden Mayor and Town Council had run a programme in the secondary schools in Linden and had given interested students a handbook to study from. Later on, the participants were given five minutes to make a presentation on themselves and to answer two questions that were posed. In the end Beckles was declared winner and named mayor, while the other participants were appointed councillors.
The students were also required to submit essays that were judged by the councillors. It is hoped that through this programme youths will be better equipped with the requisite skills and knowledge for the local government arena, such as making representations for youth development and speaking up for their constituencies.
“I am a person, I always love to be a part of leadership and youth development. Always try my utmost to offer voluntary service where it is needed,” was how Beckles described himself.
As such, when he saw the opportunity to be part of the programme he grabbed it because he saw another avenue to assist in the development of Linden and Region Ten as a whole.
He said one of the issues that has already been raised by the youths is the lack of proper recreational facilities and along with YMCA and the council, he is trying to see what can be done in this area.
“As we speak, I am working with the mayor to prepare a student government manual that will be handed to the Ministry of Education come September so that all secondary schools in Linden will be exposed to a student government body,” he said.
Beckles attends the MC Educational Institute, a private secondary school in Linden, where he is head prefect and involved in all the activities; at times he even plans the activities.
“That is how much I love voluntary service so much. I will go to school at eight and sometimes leave until after five,” he said.
Beckles, who will be writing the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations next year, said he also considers himself a young businessman as his father owns two businesses. Beckles, as the eldest and only son is actively involved. Through the businesses, his family makes contributions to children especially at September for back-to-school, through churches and at Christmas time, he said.
When he completes his secondary education, Beckles hopes to move into the medical field as he dreams of one day becoming a paediatrician since he believes he will be able to help more children should he become successful.
“I want to encourage the youths to offer voluntary service where it is needed, it will give them experience and help us in nation building and unite us as one. Remember we live in the cooperative country of Guyana…,” the youth mayor said