New NYCD president optimistic about organization’s future, outlines plans for 2021

The new NYCD executive. Ashma McDougall is standing in the centre in the back row.

Rebuilding the image of the National Youth Council of Dominica (NYCD), advocating for greater involvement, engagement, and participation of our youth,  and increasing the dialogue on the issue which affects younger person daily, are among the first order of business for 2021, says recently elected President of the National Youth Council of Dominica (NYCD), Ashma McDougall.

McDougall, a senior lecturer at the Dominica State College (DSC), was elected to the position on December 5th, 2020 and will officially be sworn in later this month.

In an interview with Dominica News Online (DNO), McDougall stated that over the years, there has been a disconnect between the NYCD and the youth organization in Dominica and here on island and said she plans to bridge that gap.

“Throughout my campaign when I reached out to the many youth organizations, what I recognized was that there was somewhat of a disconnect between them and the national youth council. I feel like over the years the youth organizations have somewhat lost trust and confidence in us as an advocate for them,” she noted.

Convinced that the council has not been as vibrant as it should be, the new president indicated that together with the other executive members, she will rejuvenate the organization in order to create greater awareness and better advocacy for youths.

She is of the view that Dominica has the most diverse and best-educated generation yet, however, she says due to the lack of a productive workforce, unemployment and underemployed, young people are frustrated.

“When I speak to many youths, they are extremely lackadaisical. They are non-enthusiastic, they are not motivated,” McDougall remarked. “It is it like everyone is looking for a way out and in my perspective, we need to change that rhetoric and I feel like for us to actually move towards a sustainable future, and to us seeing prosperity and to us seeing the growth, we need people and for that to happen, we need voices to pressure groups to make changes for people to want to stay.”

The NYCD president added that in the first quarter of 2021, plans are being finalized to have district youth forums, as well as to restore the district youth councils which serve as pillars of the NYCD and which will hopefully change the notion that the organization only represents the youth in the city.

The organization will also be undertaking the task of dispelling the notion that they have, to some extent, become political.

McDougall went on to say that she has already been addressing the situation in which it appeared that, instead of given representation to the youth, the NYCD was representing a political party and going forward, the focus will be on on advocate for what youths need instead of just trying to convince them of what opportunities exist.

“We’re representing all youth, we’re not representing youths based on who they are politically affiliated with. People are free to express their political views, however, I believe when representing youths there should be no bias towards any political parties. And as an educated individual especially within the realm of economics,  my focus is discussing the issues of which there are many,” the NYCD official declared.

McDougall revealed that while studying abroad, her passion for youth development drove her to research male block culture recognizing that this particular challenge is one of the factors which hinder youth development, particularly the males.

“I am very happy that I won this election because I am going to drive this project through the National Youth Council,” she said, pointing out that she plans to tackle the issue on a national scale which, if successful, could have a  “diverse” impact.

Another top priority of the NYCD will be capacity building for different groups across the country who are doing great things but don’t have the resources to implement all their plans. McDougall said in that regard, a grant writing session is already scheduled for the end of March.

The young, youth advocate who holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Finance, a master’s degree in Economic Policy and is pursuing a Ph.D. in International Development, with research focusing on poverty and culture in the Kalinago Territory, is optimistic about the future of the NYCD under her leadership and the rest of the NYCD executive.

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