Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Young Leaders Programme was established to encourage community development by challenging students to implement sustainable projects to benefit their communities, while developing leadership skills and teamwork. This year’s theme is “I am we leading Change in Our Community”.
The programme operates in Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, St. Kitts/Nevis, Trinidad and Antigua.
Locally, eight secondary schools participated: Saint Mary’s College, St. Joseph’s Convent, Entrepot, Leon Hess, Choiseul, Babonneau, Sir Ira Simmons and Gros Islet.
Following months of preparation and anticipation, the students gathered on Tuesday at Sandals Halcyon for the award ceremony. Welcome remarks were made by Mr. Roger Hassell, RBC Baywalk branch manager, who lauded the 130 students who took part.. “By participating in this programme,” said Hassell, “you have challenged yourself and set the stage for change. You showed your family, friends and colleagues the change you want to see. And what you, as an individual in a team, can do simply with some creativity and passion. That is your personal and everlasting gain!”
The day’s first award, the Judges’ Award, went to Babonneau Secondary School, for its “Don’t Trash it, Recycle it!” project.
The award for Most Outstanding Young Leader went to Justice Mauthurin, whose school, Entrepot Secondary, also captured the Award of Honour (4th place).
The Award of Merit (3rd) went to Gros Islet Secondary School. In 2nd place, receiving the Award of Excellence was Sir Ira Simmons.
Chosieul Secondary School and Saint Mary’s College tied for the Award of Distinction.
Guest Speaker and former Saint Mary’s College principal Mr. Rowan Seon created the Young Leaders Programme. He said, with a note of regret:
“The programme started in 1997 with 21 schools participating. This year we are down to eight. In 2012 there were thirteen schools; in 2015, twelve; in 2016, eleven. Can you see a trend here? There is a serious problem!”
For the continuation and growth of the programme, he recommended it be mandatory for the involvement of at least two teachers at each participating school. In the event one leaves, the programme would not be negatively affected.
Mr. Seon encouraged the bank to ensure there is continuity by making a website,or featuring students in banners/magazines. He advised that documents prepared by schools, in addition to their community projects, should be distributed.
“We cannot afford to let this programme fail,” he said. “It’s much too important. We have to make it our priority!”
The theme for the 2019 RBC Young Leaders programme will be “I am We Embracing Change in a Digital Environment”.