Kaieteur News – Over the past 25 years, Volunteer Youth Corps (VYC) Inc., a local humanitarian agency, has been assisting youths in the areas of education, health and social development. Under the leadership of Ms. Goldie Scott, who is a founding member of the organisation since 1996 and the current Chief Executive Officer (CEO), VYC has engaged in 25 years of initiatives geared at helping to make lives for young people in Guyana a bit easier. Etched in its strategy to achieve this, is a holistic approach to youth development; one that embraces the highly tested notion that involves youths as active partners, influencing positive health and social outcomes. In furtherance of its mission, VYC, alongside its longstanding partners, implemented several in-school and after-school programmes to advance the academic and social development of children and youths in Guyana. These programmes include Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education after school projects; inclusive of robotics, which serves over 700 students in 15 schools in Regions Three and Four, its youth employment training, career guidance initiative and the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring project. VYC understands that education; a love for learning, mentorship and a stable support system are fundamental variables, which create an environment where success is more attainable. As such, in its annual portfolio, the organisation underscored that “our core values emphasise care, innovation, respect, learning and effectiveness. The ultimate aim is to create an encouraging atmosphere so that our students can have fun while learning.” In this regard, the organisation boasts an excellent track record working with international agencies such as ExxonMobil Guyana, USAID, UNDP, UNESCO and Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects GGP and has also worked with private sector organisations such as Guyana Goldfields and VSO/CUSO Guyana. Under its overarching theme, ‘Caring for Humanity,’ the VYC has successfully implemented several programmes to provide assistance to youths and children, even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, since the pandemic started, the VYC via its Provision of Primary Education Assistance provides workbook assistance four days per week for primary level children from schools within various communities. The primary school children from Enterprise Primary in D’Urban Backlands and Lodge Primary have been the main beneficiaries of the project. With the help of volunteer teachers, students in Grades Four, Five and Six work to complete the workbooks in accordance with the Ministry of Education’s curriculum. With all COVID-19 guidelines in place, the classes are held at the D’Urban Backlands VYC Centre four days a week from 09:00hrs. to 12:00hrs. Deborah Baird, Assistant to the CEO, shared that students also receive a nutritious meal and juice every Thursday, even as she revealed that VYC hopes to expand this initiative to provide after school lessons/assistance for 100 students, ages 12 and under, at the centre. In addition to this, she said that the organisation has a history of providing nutritional support for children, through its feeding programme, which targets 1,000 disadvantaged children, 12 years, and under, in schools and communities, on a monthly basis. VYC, she said, also carries out a series of meal and hamper distribution inclusive of basic household amenities. Students, Baird added, are able to benefit from annual STEM Camp, STEM Conference, Robotics and prize giving and awards ceremony. Added to this, she said, VYC has been able to support students and teachers during this difficult time by connecting them via ZOOM and other platforms, as well as providing laptops, tablets and other devices. Under the programme, VYC promises to loan 150 tablets to disadvantaged students under the programme to ensure they are able to participate in the online classes as well as sustain or improve their academic performances, according to Baird. Under its Career Guidance Programme, VYC has a two-year career education programme for High school students in Georgetown. The programme, Baird said, is implemented in 11 high schools. The purpose of the programme, she explained, is to help young people make appropriate education and career choices to help them develop their full potential as they access education and work opportunities aligned with their personal interests and skills. Added to this, the organisation provides employment training for workforce readiness. The youth employment programme, Baird noted, aims to reduce risk factors for crime and violence through increased access to employment opportunities for at-risk youths between the ages of 16-29 years old in Georgetown. The programme, as advertised by VYC, is designed to bolster empowerment of youths through a participatory, competency-based skills training covering the Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) curriculum; employment readiness and basic life skills training; and job placement and aftercare support. In addition to sustaining its full time academy programme which sees it working full-time with 60 at-risk youths (those who have dropped out of school early), VYC is implementing a healthcare project to provide the best pediatric care on site. Under healthcare, the organisation is also looking to address dental hygiene for students as well as the provision of Vitamin ‘C’ and ‘B’ Complex tablets. Chief among its projects for this year is the VYC renovation project, which commenced in February, 2020, and concluded on June 18, 2021. The project, according to Baird, was part of a partnership initiative between the Government of Japan and the Volunteer Youth Corps Inc. It was also facilitated by the Office of the President through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The renovation, according to the VYC officials, was completed under a Grant from the Government of Japan totalling $19.9 Million. The newly renovated space, Baird shared, will give the organisation the opportunity to expand its services and focus on the safety and security of children through the implementation of feeding, clothing and toy distribution programmes which will serve 1,000 vulnerable children per month, the provision of the best pediatric care on site, and a full time academy which will afford 60 at-risk students a second chance to complete their CSEC Examinations. Article —>  Volunteer Youth Corps …a humanitarian agency helping to empower our youths