Increasingly so, young people are continually attracted to the Barbados Labour Party, (BLP), and many who have progressed to top positions in government and the wider society have been shaped and given opportunities by our Party.
Inspired leadership from inception has been a defining factor. So, too, has been our Party’s penchant for embracing young people and mentoring and exposing them so they achieve their dreams in or out of politics.
And, naturally, young people tend to gravitate to our Party simply because of the incontrovertible fact associate with the organising which has provided most of the landmarks they recognise and enjoy.
Perhaps, the poster child of BLP youth empowerment is our present leader Mia Amor Mottley. She became a Senator at 25 and went on to be the first and youngest Attorney-General and first female Deputy Prime Minister.
But many a revered Party member took their first steps to being involved in organised politics by joining the youth arm of our Party – The League of Young Socialists (LYS).
These include Billie Miller, now Dame Billie; David Simmons, now Sir David and others like Winston Stafford, an original member, who excelled as a health professional in the UK and is back home, retired, but still very much involved in our Party.
The LYS began as an assembly of young persons interested in politics and our Party, who met weekly to discuss issues and make presentations guided by Gilmore Roacheford.
Among other preparations for political life, Roacheford gave the youngsters books to read, which formed part of their discussions. One such publication was Who can be Free and Happy in Russia? by Nikolai Nebrasov.
The LYS was officially founded in 1958 and continues to be an important arm of the Party
The Mandate of the LYS is as follows:
To make young people more aware of political issues and its importance to their lives
To create a nurturing environment for the emergence of future leaders
To project the policy of the Barbados Labour Party
To educate and enlighten the youth of Barbados in the philosophies, policies and ideas of the Barbados Labour Party, whether in Government or in Opposition.
To give support to the Barbados Labour Party
To become involved within the community to assist in social transformation
This platform has been the proving ground for many BLP supporters who have progressed to hold offices in the Party structure and, indeed, serve at the national level in both the public and private sectors.
LYS members continue to play important roles as platform speakers, canvassers and as members of various campaign teams.
Over the decades, the LYS has held extensive training programmes and hosted the second annual Caribbean Youth Conference in 1984, when Leroy Parris, one of its most dynamic leaders, was President.
Other Presidents have included John Nicholls, who served as a Senator, Denise Mongerie-Rogers, Evalina King-Harper, John Williams, who was a Senator and Government Minister; and immediate Past President Asokore Beckles, who serves on the executive of the National Union of Public Workers, (NUPW).
In recent times, the LYS has added a charity outreach to its list of activities – one of the more popular aspects of its annual programme.
The LYS is now headed by Damien Sands, a lawyer and entrepreneur. Shanika Roberts-Odle serves along with Sands on the National Executive Council, (NEC), of our Party.
Membership of the LYS is open to anyone 35 and under.