PHILIPSBURG – On Saturday December 9th the St. Maarten Youth Brigade, along with family and friends celebrated the promotion of its new recruits, cadets and Sergeants in a wonderful ceremony and reception which was also supported by the Prime Minister Rafael Boasman and Minister of Youth Silveria Jacobs.
Founder Zulayka Peterson spoke of the history of the St. Maarten Youth Brigade and it’s journey from inception to present, highlighting its challenges as well as great achievements including the personal and collective growth of its members. The members also engaged in community support and volunteering before and after Hurricane Irma, along with training and development which they endured and are now thankful for and so much more. Mrs. Peterson also mentioned in her address that members got permission to wear their uniforms to school on the 5th anniversary of the Voice of our Youth Foundation earlier this year which led to more recruits joining the SMYB.
Mrs. Peterson also highlighted the accolades the members have received from the Dutch Marines whom they assisted directly after Hurricane Irma’s passing, working at the NIPA Shelter, assisting with food and water distribution, with cleaning up schools and in the community and helping those who had lost roofs including their own members.
Minister Jacobs in her address, congratulated the visionaries who saw the possibilities 5 years ago and who saw it through to the point where they have so many youth positively busy in their own lives and making an impact in the community. Minister Jacobs also thanked all those who had worked with the youth to make it possible for them to move to the next level today.
Minister Jacobs further pledged to continue to support in whatever way she could, both in and out of office, and encouraged the general public to find some way to support youth groups such as these and to encourage and support their children to take part in such positive initiatives. The Youth Brigade should not be seen as a boot camp but as a way through military type training to groom youth to join our uniformed services as well as to grow in character and discipline. One young member who has been promoted to Sergeant, Corporal Rupshen is already enlisted in the VKS.
Setting a day per month in which the SMYB members could wear their uniforms to school at least once per month to share their goals and experiences with their friends at school was promoted by the Minister and received loud cheers of agreement from the recently promoted members. Minister Jacobs pledged to make it possible.
Prime Minister Rafael Boasman also gave some encouraging remarks to the organization, members, families and friends and further echoed the sentiments of his colleague Minister for continued support for the St. Maarten Youth Brigade as an alternative to incarcerating youth offenders and thereby retraining and preparing them to be productive and positive citizens and role models to their peers and younger children on St. Maarten.
The newly promoted members and their peers marched through Philipsburg with pride after the ceremony and returned to enjoy the reception with their guests.