By Foresee Foundation
Teen Times is the North-Eastern Caribbean’s only monthly full-colour news magazine specifically for and by young people and a supplement of St. Maarten’s largest daily newspaper, The Daily Herald. In circulation since 1996, our purpose is to give young people a voice, to empower them, to enlighten them, to encourage them to develop as solid citizens, to educate and entertain them through the power of writing and community involvement.
How does your organization contribute to a better St. Maarten for all?
We believe that a better St. Maarten for all starts with the support of youth and youth programs now – today! This is at our core. We believe in helping youth to harness their enthusiasm to use media, digital media in particular, so that they may give public voice to issues they care about and will foster active citizenship among members of their generation.
As primarily young writers, the team believes that effective change can be had through writing. Stories concerning young people are woefully left out of the narrative in every regard. Journalism can be a vibrant, colourful way to tell our stories or our side to a story. Young people from all walks of life have different experiences and passions that they can contribute. Journalism by teenagers is powerful, because journalism thrives with authenticity, and there’s nothing more authentic than youth telling their truth in their way and by extension encouraging a community to do the same.
Our secondary passion is the performing arts. We are very proud of our history of showcasing St. Maarten’s talented youth in the performing arts since 2002 through our annual Talent Showdown. This event has made it possible for us to award students with scholarships and performing arts, trips to the US to perform at the Apollo Theatre, BET and more. We have opened local savings bank accounts for talented youth and we have also donated financially to the schools, and supplied computers to the schools.
We also have a knack for addressing community issues that many may find taboo. One such issue is the lack of access to sanitary/hygiene products for teens, which we hope to address through our “Period Poverty” initiative and the provision of pantries in secondary schools filled with hygiene products which can be accessed by students free of charge. This project was submitted to the Parliament of St. Maarten in an effort to make it a mainstay and priority for government and school boards. We have also submitted another very important initiative proposal to Parliament: Making St. Maarten history a significant part of the school curriculum. This initiative is being discussed by Parliament and the Minister of Education based on our white paper on the issue. Additionally, Teen Times has submitted a white paper to government about how to tackle the issue of youth delinquency in the country.
Finally, after all the annual work, we get to have a good time with senior graduating students when we host our annual Prom Night – another event that we have hosted since 1996.
What message would you send out to the community to support your group’s goals?
Not just the goals of Teen Times, but for youth programs in general – supporting youth as partners in making decisions that affect them, their peers and their community increases the likelihood that the decisions will be accepted, adopted, and become part of their everyday lives. In addition, empowering youth to identify and respond to community needs helps them become empathetic, reflective individuals, setting them on a course to potentially continue this important work in their future. Support young people and their goals today in order to meet the country’s aspirations in the future. We believe more people need to understand this basic tenet of youth support.
How can someone sign up to volunteer or support your organization?
Very easy – just reach out and ask: “How can I help?”