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I Am King forum hones in on empowering young men

page6a127DAWN BEACH--Nearly 200 young men attended a motivational and interactive I Am King Men's Empowerment Conference on Thursday, where they were addressed by a number of speakers, shared issues affecting them in groups, and interacted with facilitators.

The day-long conference centred on topics affecting male youth focusing on personal development. Keynote speaker Shane “Rizon” Gibson, an international Caribbean/ Gospel musician and sportsman, was given a standing ovation for his words, which focused on advice to the young men in their development into driven and accomplished adults.

Advice included training in the right habits, visualising goals, having heart, not giving up, having a mentor and speaking mindfully.

Facilitators, men chosen from various sectors of the community, led individual group discussions where the young men were encouraged to talk about issues affecting them and possible solutions, these topics were later combined and shared in a panel discussion.

The event was an initiative of the Department of Youth Affairs, in collaboration with the Going In, Finding Truth, Enlightening Darkness (GIFTED) Foundation.

The young men were also addressed by Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs (ECYS) Rita Bourne-Gumbs, event host and founder of GIFTED Lenworth Wilson who also spoke about being a “king;” Dennis Baptist who spoke about meaningful relationships, and Pastor Elvison Adamus who spoke about purpose.

Another highlight of the conference was the launching of the I Am King poster, part of a media campaign planned by the Department of Youth Affairs set to continue into next year.

Department Head Shermina Powell-Richardson said that aside from the media campaign, another six weeks of workshops would start in November, also tailored for young men and reaching St. Maarten’s various districts. The conference itself included a myriad of students, with invitations having been sent to every high school on St. Maarten.

Powell-Richardson is also the St. Maarten representative of the Kingdom Task Force for Children's Rights. When asked, she told The Daily Herald that the idea for the conference came up as a result of findings of the task force, which included space for improvement in certain areas such as fatherhood, focus and relationships.

Thursday’s conference was held at Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort and Spa. Ministers Ernest Sams and Rafael Boasman, Member of Parliament Cornelius de Weever, ECYS Secretary-General Jorien Wuite and other Youth Affairs and GIFTED officials also joined the young men, facilitators and speakers for the day.

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