A workshop targeting young people was held on Thursday and Friday at the Linden Enterprise Network.
Thirty-eight youths drawn from various youth groups and organizations across Linden, benefitted from the initiative.
The workshop was made possible through the Ministry of the Presidency, and the Department of Social Cohesion.
Lead trainer, Will Campbell, explained that it was a diversity training workshop, titled “Youth Unity in Diversity… Bridging gaps in Communities”.
“The aim is to help people become aware of their personal biases and how these biases affect or negatively impact the way we deal with people in our communities, and how they hamper our development as communities and as a nation.”Campbell said.
He added that the aim is to help people learn to embrace their diversities, and see those as assets, rather than liabilities.
Campbell expressed the hope that the youths involved in the workshop, would go back to their communities and influence others, to see past their differences, whether those be racial, political, religious or gender.
“We want people to move past these differences and work together to achieve common goals,” he emphasized.
Natasha Singh-Lewis, acting coordinator from the Department of Social Cohesion, Ministry of the Presidency, said that the workshop sought to create equal opportunities through training.
Ms. Singh-Lewis said that the mandate of the Department of Social cohesion is to create a unified Guyana where there are equal opportunities for everyone.
“Our approach to creating a unified Guyana, is capacity building at the community level, the municipal level, the Regional Level and the National Level.”
She noted that the two-day workshop was at the Community Level.
Ms. Singh-Lewis added that the training is not a one off exercise, but that participants would be divided into groups to demonstrate that they would have learnt what diversity is all about, and how they could bring the people together.
According to Singh-Lewis, participants would also demonstrate their new skills, through projects that they will undertake, in their respective communities.
She said that the Department of Social Cohesion will support the implementation of these projects.
“We see the projects as a gateway into individual communities.”
The initiatives, she pointed out, would afford the opportunity, for officials from the Department of Social Cohesion, to leave Georgetown and go into communities, to see how they could be helped.
Topics covered during the workshop included binding, bonding and bridging, with an emphasis on leadership.
According to Singh-Lewis, the Department of Social Cohesion came into being in 2015 and between 2015 and 2016, a five-year strategic plan was developed for Social Cohesion in Guyana.
She pointed out, that it was recognized that what was needed, was a lot of capacity building.
“So we wanted people to understand, what we are doing with Social Cohesion, and how does that affect you, and the changes you need to be looking at.
“For Social Cohesion, behavioral Change, modification is what we’re looking at. So in starting this approach, we wanted to train persons…we have to be cognizant of what’s happening, talk about yourself, your differences and how they affect others,” Singh-Lewis stated.
She acknowledged that the training, which started in 2017, has so far covered all ten administrative Regions.
In pursuing a holistic approach, all heads of Department of Social Studies in schools across the country, will be trained in 2019.
Ms. Singh-Lewis said that the process has already seen 75 percent of teachers complete training.