Pacific Youth & Community Development recognize Pasefika Youth Project members

tony@samoanews.com

Last Friday afternoon, the Pacific Youth & Community Development program held an award ceremony at the Alofa Tunoa chapel in Lepuapua to honor the youth members that were a part of their Pasefika Youth Project.

During the ceremony, 14 participants received Certificates of Achievement, and three members received Certificates of Participation – all awards were based on the Life Skills Training.

Toetasi Tuiteleleapaga, who is the secretary of the PYCD Board, hosted the ceremony, and offered opening remarks. She reflected on what they touched base on in the course of the project, noting, "the PYCD Board believes that the true humanitarian spirit of caring for those in need, those with disadvantages, and those who are voiceless, are those who are passionate about what they do because it is their ministry.”

She said, "Pasefika Youth Programs primary goal is focusing on the positive, and helping to build … self confidence… it is important for our youth service providers to be prepared, skilled, and certified, because they're on the front line responding to crisis and providing crisis intervention at every moment.”

Welcoming those in attendance during the ceremony was Representative Larry Sanitoa, the PYCD Board vice-chair, who extended a warm welcome to the students and their parents, and acknowledged the members of the PYCD Board “for all that you do for the youth of American Samoa.”

He congratulated “all of you who've worked hard, especially the volunteers that helped us reach this point, malo lava, fa'afetai."

Project Director Kathryn McCutchan-Tupua spoke of the training, explaining, the participants “received training on trauma inform care concepts, motivational interviewing, and ways to develop the youth’s positive change talk – so suffice to say, our trainees were kept pretty busy throughout these four weeks.”

She said, "I don't know if a lot of you know that the adolescent brain fully develops and matures around the age of 25 and 26 – so all of you young kids here today, your brains are still maturing."

McCutchan-Tupua said, “I stand before you today, to congratulate a great group of passionate people who I'm confident will move our systems forward — Malo lava le finau mo se lumana'i manuia mo a tatou fanau.”

Keynote address was delivered by Faoa Aitofele Sunia, former Lt. Governor of American Samoa, who regaled participants with stories of his own youth, and told them “to look at me and imagine that I was once just like you folks sitting here today.”

He said, "I congratulate you parents for supporting your child's completion of this important program, I am pleased to see this program up and running in our community – I believe that our government and communities as a whole need to do more to serve our communities and our young adults."

Presentation of Awards for Students Participants and Support Staff of the program. Receiving Certification ofd Achievement in Life Skills Training were Corabell Penelope Tulouna, DJ Meleisea, Deborah Meleisea, Ella Mamona, Jade Polevia, John Taalafaaluaaiaiga, Marietta Faatuuala, Mataalii Falevai, Paul Atafua, Samitioata Tuiolosega, Tasman Amosa, Taualai Pati, and Tauamo Falevai.

Receiving Certificates of Participations in Life Skills Training were Helen Leilua, Judah Esera Tavai, and Mefi Tuioti.

Receiving Certificates of Appreciation in Life Skills Training were Pastor Heinrich Tavai, Pastor Petelo Rokotavaga, Liutautai Leupolu, Salamasina Figiel-Isaia, Alfred Vitale, and Lottie Savusa.

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