More photos: Pago Youth Rally a smash hit
The first ever Pago Pago Youth Rally concluded yesterday with fun games and activities for the over one thousand kids and parents who participated in the three-day event.
Pago Pago faipule Rep. Vaamua Henry Sesepasara, whose idea it was to hold the rally, told the Samoa News yesterday that he is very pleased with the turn-out, and he expects to make this an annual event for the kids in his village. He said that during the initial planning stages, they anticipated about 400 kids at the most. But he was shocked when he had to get 1,500 shirts printed for all the participants.
"I introduced the idea for this program to members of the village council, parents, as well as the church leaders of Pago Pago who were all very accepting and pledged their full support of the program," Vaamua said, adding that the rally wasn't just for a certain religion but for everyone between 4 and 18 years old living in Pago Pago.
The theme of the event was: "Saili Le Amio Tausa'afia" and festivities were held at Gagamoe Park. Vaamua solicited help from the local business community and different government agencies and departments who turned out to provide free presentations, lectures, and learning sessions for the youngsters.
Present were the Department of Health (who also provided free dental check ups), the DPS Office of Highway Safety (the major sponsor), the Department of Human and Social Services, the Department of Homeland Security, and the American Samoa Alliance Against Sexual and Domestic Violence.
Leaders for the different religious denominations were also present, as well as residents, members of the village council, and parents who say the event was a great way to allow their children to socialize with others and learn new things that can benefit them in the future.
Vaamua said the goal of the program is to bring kids together to fellowship and get to know one another, teaching them life lessons that they can take with them, and to steer them away from drugs and alcohol by keeping them busy with recreational and educational activities.
Judge John Ward was the guest speaker during yesterday's event. According to him, there has been an increasing number of criminal cases being brought before him, involving young people under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Of those cases, 60% of them involve underage teens.
"This is a very sad fact but we need to do what we can to help keep these kids away from jail," Vaamua said, adding that there is nothing that can be done to those kids who are beyond their reach but there is still something they can do to reach out to the youngsters who are still living in the village and have yet to commit their first crime.
The youngsters were divided into four teams yesterday as they ended the rally with soccer and volleyball games.
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