Caribbean Beat Magazine

Young, gifted and back

RBTT creates well-rounded students through the regional Young Leaders programme

  • Takyanna Nedd of Roxborough Composite School and Brillience Sammy of Waterloo High School discuss ideas. Photograph courtesy RBTT Financial Group

For more than 25 years, RBTT Bank has been promoting youth development in a unique way in the Caribbean. The Young Leaders programme has become a well-known brand, with high-school children anxiously awaiting their turn to prove themselves. Yet, unlike the students’ individual grades or medals, a Young Leaders accomplishment is remembered as a team achievement.

The past year was no different. With the theme “Realising Self-Worth…Your Choice, Your Destiny,” the Young Leaders captured every opportunity to excel both as individuals and as part of a team. The theme was conceived by the previous year’s Outstanding Young Leader nominees.

“The Young Leaders have no choice but to work together,” said Don La Foucade, an RBTT Young Leaders co-ordinator.

“They start by having their own ideas, and, in the end, they come together with a common goal. We have noticed over the years, the schools that work together from the start are the ones that succeed.”

In Trinidad and Tobago, third and fourth-formers from across the country spent the months between September 2006 and May 2007 developing their projects. Because Young Leaders is a community-focused programme, the projects must involve the community in some way and must also have a sustainable, positive impact on the community.

Taking this into consideration, the 2007 Young Leaders embarked on a journey of self-motivation and self-discovery, with the challenge of taking these discoveries and channelling them into positive change in their societies.

Standing proud above the competition was Waterloo High School. They copped this year’s national title, proving their excellence once again, having won the 2006 regional competition.

Elsewhere too, across the Caribbean region, in the past year, more than 4,000 students have participated in this youth development initiative. And like a proud parent, RBTT has watched this programme grow into a creative, inspirational outlet for children across Trinidad and Tobago, as well as in St Lucia, Grenada, St Vincent, Nevis, and Antigua.

“The Young Leaders project has had a tremendous impact on the lives of our kids,” said Gail Horsham, a teacher from Diego Martin Junior Secondary School in Trinidad.

“They emerge as well-rounded, mature individuals, with the belief that they can accomplish anything. This alone proves the success of this programme.”

In addition to the actual outcome of the project, the Young Leaders are judged on the process by which they develop their projects. The judges look at their ability to work as a team, how they plan and conduct meetings, their efficiency in record-keeping, and their determination to complete the project on their own.

With the added debate component, introduced in 2003, students have the opportunity to prove themselves in a different arena. They are judged on their ability to articulate themselves and contest their colleagues in a public and highly publicised forum.

The 2007 debate winner in Trinidad and Tobago was St Benedict’s Boys’ College, coming out on top from among 50 competitors. The schools debated the pros and cons of two motions: “No matter the circumstance, the individual controls his/her own destiny” and “Society’s needs should take precedence over the needs of the individual.”

Already, Young Leaders are anxiously preparing to take on the 2008 debate and project challenge coming out of the theme “Bridging the Gap: Building Relationships for a Better Tomorrow.”

RBTT Young Leaders is an award-winning youth programme of the RBTT Financial Group