2016 annual youth conference at takoradi in the western region
The 13th Annual National Youth Conference of the Ghana YMCA was held at the Takoradi Polytechnic in the Western Region. The focus of the YMCA on youth represents our dreams and vision of a society where the youth are able to take control of their own lives and actively participate in the decisions that affect their future.
With this year’s election barley three (3) months away, we chose the theme “ Promoting Peace, Free and Fair Election 2016 Youth as Ambassadors” to educate especially the youth on the need for peaceful elections and for them to turn out to vote based on issues that affect their well-being socially and economically.
This year’s conference brought active, vibrant and innovative groups from our various regions and sister organization such as EQWIP HUBS.
Various speakers at this year’s opening ceremony reiterated the importance of the theme. The Vice- Chairman of the Western Regional Council of YMCAs and former Youth President Mr. Augustine Sarkwah said the YMCA Youth Conference was significant because it has coincided with the International Youth Day. His expectation was that the youth of Ghana YMCA will leave this conference with the aim to be ambassadors of peace before during and after the presidential and parliamentary elections. He challenged the youth to become leaders with foresight to impact positively on the society as a whole.
He urged the youth to strongly adhere to the values of YMCA and demonstrate actions worthy of emulation which can attract their peers to join the Association.
Western Regional Coordinator for the National Youth Authority, Mr. Emmanuel Quansah before his speech instructed all participant to sing one of the Youth anthem, “Arise Ghana Youth for your Country”. He said Ghana YMCA played a key role in contributing to the development of the National Youth Policy which was intiated by the then Vice – President of the Republic of Ghana His Excellency John Dramani Mahama in the year 2010.
He said the theme “Promoting Peace, Free and Fair Election 2016 Youth Ambassadors” shows that YMCA share the same aspiration, and the same vision across the country in achieving a peaceful elections this year. Mr. Emmanuel Quansah said the vitality of the YMCA today is a source of hope in the growing world and a challenge to the ecumenical movement of reaching out to all youth in the country.
The National Chairman of Ghana YMCA, Mr. Reynolds Kwadwo Kissiedu brought to the fore the fact that the country’s political analysts are worried about the tendency of the country being sharply divided due to political differences that may arise before and during the election and after the declaration of results. He said the youth everywhere have been the mechanism by politicians in driving chaos and experts are worried about same in Ghana.
He described this as being the result of unemployment and idleness of our much energized youth who do not have any productive avenue to channel their energy.
He urged the youth to desist form perpetuating violence and not allow themselves to be used, as war is not an option and it is very expensive.
He informed participants that Ghana YMCA will roll out a bulk SMS Election 2016 advocacy Campaign as part of our contributions to ensuring an informed and peaceful environment towards a successful elections come December 7, 2016. The short code for the SMS is 3701.
Mr. Kissiedu concluded by quoting John Wesley, the founder of Methodism on voting and elections. Dated October 6, 1774 Wesley said:
“I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them,
1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy:
2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against, and
3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side”.
The keynote speaker, Honorable Alfred Ekow Gyan, who is the Deputy Western Regional Minister reminded the youth that elections are a fundamental principle of any democracy as far as governance is concerned. He said periodic elections are held in every truly democratic country, and the Republic of Ghana, come Decembers 7, will conduct its 7th General elections under its 4th republic.
He said any change in the form of development which should affect the nation should first be directed towards the youth. Since juveniles and the elderly are dependent upon the youth for survival, any change towards the youth greatly affects the whole population. It is important that if the youths who themselves are the source of generating wars, preach peace among themselves, then the tendency for any such disputes arising from the elections becomes impossible or rare. He urged that peace can be achieved if each and every one of the youth sees every passing minute as a moment of campaigning for peace anywhere they find themselves.
Youth that participated in this year’s opening ceremony at the Conference numbered up to 125. There were various sessions and workshops organized by a number of resource persons such as Mr. Fred Dadzie, Programmes Director of EQWIP HUBS and a government agency, the National Commission for Civic Education.
Some of the topics the participants were taken through include; Expectations and Responsibilities of the Youth in Ensuring Peaceful Election, Tolerating, Divergent, Opinions a Prerequisite for Peaceful Election and Goal Setting. Participants were enthused by the topics they were taken through as many of them spoken to after each session expressed joy in being a part of the working sessions of the conference. This they said will improve their life style and empower them to make changes in their society.
The camp was graced by series of exciting events ranging from touring the Sekondi-Takoradi Naval Base which is the Headquarters of the Western Naval Command. There was a worship filled gospel rock show which featured the participants of the conference and some members of local Churches such as Fountain of Living Waters International and Top Chapel International and Purpose Choir.