Island youth represented at New York conference


PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten young people were fully represented at a conference on teen pregnancy recently held in New York. Learning Unlimited Preparatory School student Celine Mayeko-Coklee, an active member of HIV/AIDS Foundation Youth Wing Chapter, was selected by the Department of Youth Affairs and Social Development to represent St. Maarten at a United Nations Side Event on Teenage Pregnancy.

This conference was part of the High Level Political Forum attended by Prime Minister William Marlin and other Government officials. The Side Event, a high-level round table discussion on preventing teenage pregnancy, was organised by the governments of the Netherlands, Ethiopia, Kenya, St. Maarten and various non-governmental organisations that are collaborating on a global level to bring awareness and attention to this issue faced by youth.

Marlin had the opportunity to give a short synopsis of the situation in St. Maarten and present the measures taken to combat teen pregnancy on the island. Most importantly, youth from four countries gave their views on teenage pregnancy based on the situation of their respective countries and took the opportunity to present recommendations that their governments can initiate in an effort to decrease the number of cases annually.


Celine worked hard during the short period allotted to do relevant research on the policy area and to prepare for the experience of a lifetime of speaking at a high-level political forum, which was broadcast around the world. On her return, she provided a statement about her experience.

She said, “My experience at the High Level Political Forum Side Event can best be unique and an experience that I am so proud to have been a part of. In this conference I was able to meet with other youth from countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya and the Netherlands to discuss issues that directly affect our nations.

“Although I was the youngest delegate at this conference, I was never once treated as though I were incompetent, and my voice was truly heard. I am very grateful for the respect and interest I was given when voicing the issues surrounding St. Maarten, because as a representative of the youth of St. Maarten, this is all I could have asked for. I became aware that conferences like this occur often and I hope that my experience will inspire more youth on the island to participate in these events.”

The event, although short, was deemed a success, as the opportunity to share information on such a public platform goes a long way to inform society on issues facing the youth. Department of Youth Senior Policy Officer Elmora Pantophlet-Aventurin accompanied the youth delegate at the conference.

To hear Celine’s presentation, as well as those of the other speakers, log on to the St. Maarten Youth Affairs Facebook page.

Source: The Daily Herald