‘Power To Conquer’ – Youth empowerment through inner transformation and change – the real deal

Image of Marion Francis Henry

PRESS RELEASE – WE have recently learned that the Ministry of Equity Social Justice and Empowerment is embarking on a youth empowerment programme as part of the Government of St. Lucia’s strategy for fighting crime and putting the youth of St Lucia on a path to progress. One component of that programme is an Integrated Community-based Transformation Programme run by a special unit set up within the Department of Equity.

Image of Marion Francis Henry
Marion Francis Henry

At this very same time, one of our newest authors, Marion Francis Henry, has recently published quite an interesting and radically unusual youth empowerment resource – volume one of a book series – “Power To Conquer”. From the looks of it, this seems to be the formula that St. Lucia has been waiting for. Its difference in comparison to other youth interventions is its approach in dealing with youth empowerment through a process of transformation which, according to her, comes from change which must first take place on the inside of the individual.

As she puts it, if the youth are not able to rightly identify who they are, see their limitations and risks, identify and come face-to-face with their wrongdoings and then become willing to deal with their struggles from an internal frame of reference, then there is no change. Real change comes through a process which must be guided and supported. Real change starts from deep inside, within the inner core of mankind. Real change comes only after the youth has had a reality check and begins to think straight.

The mind needs to be renewed; the individual needs to see things from another angle; the views on life must be modified; personal values must be created or raised; respect for mankind and authority must be restored; the individual must be able to answer the questions: Who am I? and where am I going? This is the basic strategy behind this resource.

According to Henry, another interesting feature about this resource is that there is absolutely no room for failure in its use. You get out exactly what you put in. There is no magic formula. Therefore, if the user or facilitator has not applied himself/herself, then the results will be minimal. This is one of the primary reasons this resource is most beneficial when utilized in groups under motivated supervision. The resource is results-bound – ideal for a captive audience. This allows for added enthusiasm amongst peers and facilitators and it also causes acceleration in the creation of important networking and relevant support systems.

This resource seeks to empower at-risk youth and youth victims by going right down to the root of a matter. Yet its content is unbelievably uncluttered and practical, and brings good rewards. The resource gives the user a reality check. It gets into an individual’s personal space. Anyone who utilizes this resource as prescribed, and even the casual reader, will definitely be impacted for good in one way or the other and the reason is simple. The resource does not only attack the root causes of personal problems, but it also leads the way out. With this resource, the user is bound for success.

Henry points out that there is potential in everyone. Those who are delinquent and rebellious or are overcome with bad intentions or bad influence can do good. They can develop good character and become good citizens but they must be assisted in the way in which help is needed. No use making investments in dealing with the outcomes and not addressing the causes! Society benefits when youth can be prevented from committing atrocities. It is much cheaper this way. Cheaper than having to invest in institutions and systems to deal with the aftermath coupled with the fear of what is on the horizon.

The truth is, in many respects, society has failed our youth; adults and institutions have failed our youth. It is for this very reason that adults and institutions must be involved in assisting them. While the present state of affairs in St. Lucia seems quite grim, sitting on the fence and watching and complaining will not work. Everyone must play the right part. The process of youth empowerment is an integrated one. It is not the responsibility of one individual, group or institution. It must be embraced by all.

Many adults are intimidated or find it difficult to participate in the upbringing of youth as they should. One explanation for this is that they, too, have their own issues and sometimes do not understand the issues confronting youth. Well, this is precisely the reason this resource is for adults as well. It will bring clarity on some of their own issues which, perhaps, were never addressed or were kept concealed and are now haunting them. Additionally, it will cause them to become more capable of representing youth and dealing with their concerns. Adults will be empowered to deal with youth matters expeditiously and take the best decisions on their behalf. Knowledge is power!

According to Henry, “Power To Conquer” is the enablement that institutions, leaders and authorities need in the restoration of young lives — building back broken homes and restoring broken down and demoralized societies.

When offering an explanation for the genesis of “Power To Conquer”, this is what Henry had to say: “Over the years, I could not help but notice how generations of youths have gradually been derailed. This has been my observation from as far back as the early 80s. For many years, it was apparent that youth were hardly able to gain the right attention on many matters which ultimately affected them.

“My involvement with youth began at about age eighteen when I teamed up with a rather active mission-oriented youth group, as we journeyed throughout the length and breadth of St Lucia. At that time, I took much interest not only in the distribution of personal items, but also in sharing with youths my own experiences, while they in turn related theirs. I noted with much concern how they meticulously hunted out solutions. It struck me then that what they were really seeking after was the right guidance. They needed to be mentored.”

Upon graduation from St. Joseph’s Convent and Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (previously named Morne Fortune Technical College), Henry pursued studies which were an asset to her long-term employment with the government of St. Lucia as a Physical Planner. She obtained an MSc. in Environmental Impact Assessment with the University of Wales, a BSc. in Physical Planning and Environmental Resource Development with the University of Technology in Jamaica (formerly named College of Arts Science and Technology), and a Diploma in Project Management with the University of Cambridge — along with other professional qualifications.

Very early in her career, she decided also to obtain training in areas which she believed would have assisted her in helping others, in particular youths. She did a little over two years of training in basic counselling. Problem-Solving and Decision-Making, Leadership, Advanced Negotiation and Social Impact Assessments were amongst some of the areas which she found quite helpful — both career- wise and in attending to youths even up to today. A stint at Scenarios Planning with the University of Oxford was one of her big favourites. Never before had she imagined the relevance of Scenarios Planning to everyday life. Overall, she was quite pleased that her increased capacity actually enhanced her ability to hold useful conversations with young adults. Henry also noted that her passion for youth never ever subsided even when she seemed consumed in her own career.

For some time now, her heart’s desire has been to see more youths take well-calculated and informed decisions. Too many youths are not able to make the right choices, or say either “yes” or “no” at the right times and mean it. Too many youths are falling prey to the onslaught of social ills. When one looks at what fascinates youth nowadays — early and uncontrolled sex, drunkenness, reckless driving, crime, violence and the like — it makes it easy for one to conclude that with such absurdity, there is no doubt that youths are in need of urgent help.

One-on-one encounters with students, educators, guardians and parents over time have served as a real eye-opener for her. This was when her attention was really drawn to the more current matters related to youth upbringing, especially those in dysfunctional homes, less than supportive environments and surrounded by rampant lawlessness. Indeed, Henry was appalled by some discoveries. Too many youngsters and adults alike seem to have no idea of what is morally right or wrong.

Said: Henry: “Career-wise, I am a Physical Planner with expertise in Environmental Impact Assessment. As the former Chief Physical Planner and Executive Secretary to the Development Control Authority, I have now decided to make a contribution to the government and people of St. Lucia in yet another way and I am glad that I am able to do so now.”
“Power To Conquer” is a resource with which youth can discover how they can be liberated, transformed and empowered.

The goal of this resource is to:
1. Complement other youth empowerment and crime-fighting strategies;
2. Enable the transformation of lives, and change lifestyles for good;
3. Cause a noticeable decrease in crime, violence, suicide, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, rape and other social ills;
4. Contribute to the creation of a more ideal environment for economic and social development, through the reduction of crime and other delinquent activities;
5. Assist in identifying new opportunities for youth employment;
6. Enable key stakeholder institutions, such as national authorities, families, churches and schools in taking back their mandate in the fulfillment of obligations to youth;
7. Encourage and support the reform of related institutions in prioritizing the welfare of youth, at no major cost;
8. Help develop youth into resilient, healthy, caring and responsible adults.

According to Henry, a major component of this resource series is that of assisting youth in identifying new opportunities for employment; enabling key stakeholder institutions such as national authorities, families, churches and schools in taking back their mandate in the fulfillment of obligations to youth; and encouraging and supporting the reform of related institutions in prioritizing the welfare of youth.

Said Henry: “This is a resource which is directed at our specific needs. I have spoken directly to many affected youth and have heard their cries. I have had several conversations with parents/guardians and teachers, too, many of whom seem to want to throw their hands up in despair. Many seemed almost overwhelmed at the enormity of the task of having to execute normal duties while at the same time deal with the host of personal and social issues affecting both themselves and the youth.

I gather that they are seeking out something different — something that will cause visible change for good. That is exactly what “Power To Conquer” is designed to do – it causes willing individuals to come face-to-face with their own realities. The material is specifically designed to encourage positive life-changing decisions even after having made dreadful mistakes. It provides hope to the hopeless.

“Power to Conquer” helps in the identification of individual weaknesses and in harnessing strengths. Part of the process of achieving this is by creating and accessing the right networking and support systems. “Power To Conquer” helps create access to import resources as required. Moreover, the user is never alone. The resource also allows for good supervision and motivation throughout for both individuals and groups. Strategic interface with necessary experts is key and is accommodated.

This resource can be used by individuals in the privacy of the home or with families, too. However, it is most ideal for a captive audience facilitated by a leader. It is ideal for use at any empowerment programme, both during and after school. Amongst many, two very ideal places for its use are at our secondary schools and within the church setting. It is well tailored to the needs of our educational system. Students can be actively involved in addressing their issues in a controlled environment and this makes it more manageable.

It gives religious institutions the framework for dealing with the wide range of cases associated with people seeking rescue and refuge. Churches will be better able to deal with the root causes of issues because they would be operating from two platforms, that is, physical and spiritual. It is a perfect resource for all youth leaders and youth groups.

The resource is intended to impact the user’s friends, associates, family and community in a positive way. For example, one book in the bag of a student provides access to the home and, ultimately, the local community and society. One book to any individual allows this individual to reach many others with the information readily available. This is the ideal approach — each one teaches one, and what better way to go. The spinoff effect can clearly be seen – one step at a time.

When asked about the amount of exposure given to such a noteworthy intervention, this was Henry’s response: “I have informed most, if not all, major government institutions where this resource can be utilized. I have also contacted many religious organizations. This was done well in advance. I took much time in explaining how it can be beneficial to society. I also left my contact information. I even contacted the private sector.”

“POWER TO CONQUER” – the Mentor (volume I) is published and is available at our local bookshops. Email marion212@gmail.com cell 1758 2863762.

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