Address by Lawrence J. Arjoon, Chief Executive Officer, The Heroes Foundation at the Inaugural Future Forum hosted by The Heroes Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to Future Forum.

As dr. Eric Williams rightly said, the future of our nation is in our children’s school bags.

Today, we bring that future to your fingertips. 

This first of its kind event in Trinidad and Tobago will put you, the youth of Trinidad and Tobago, at the centre of development discussion to help create the future we need.

The future of our nation is at our fingertips

To be shaped by the dreams of our youth,

To be guided by the wisdom of those who have paved our way,

To be empowered by the responsibilities vested in our leaders.

This collaborative, multigenerational approach will help ensure that we benefit from all our years of learnings and excellence, while being propelled forward with the innovation, ease of access, and countless opportunities that technology provides.

It’s no secret that our younger generations are excelling with the use of technology.

This is their life. This is their world.  And we must ensure that they are supported and empowered.

Just as Trinidad and Tobago became a global leader in energy, so too can we become a global leader in technology, agriculture, equality, education, arts and culture, but we must listen to our youth, we must hear their thoughts and ideas, we must put the right systems in place to learn from our past mistakes, from our compliancy, from where we may not have gotten it quite right.  We can take all that learnings, combine them with all the opportunities available, and build the Trinidad and Tobago, and world that we need.

The Heroes Foundation is a development centre for youth leadership and mentorship.

We support the psychosocial and educational needs of youth; empowering them to successfully transition in an evolving world, and to meaningfully contribute as global citizens to a peaceful, just, and sustainable society.

I started at Heroes in March 2020.  Two weeks later, COVID-19 hit our shores.  Our team worked tirelessly over the next two weeks to transition all our in-person programmes to online delivery.

We provided tablets to participants, and trained students, parents, and teachers to learn the different technology tools available to operate in a technology-driven world.

We changed our programme delivery styles, incorporating gamified learning tools, and online resources to help participants learn better in their new environment.

We had to pivot to provide more psychosocial support for youth as well because they have been hit hard by this pandemic.

I salute our Heroes Team today, because it was through their courage in the face of their unknown, their commitment to the youth in our programmes, and their dedication to development that allowed us to keep  400 programme participants engaged and supported during this pandemic.

They are the true heroes of this foundation.

And while we continue to do all that we can to support youth, there are many who are not able to benefit from the opportunities available to them.

Many who do not have devices, internet, or even electricity.

Many who are working to help support their families hit hard by this pandemic.

Many looking for a safe space for support, to feel heard, to feel loved.

We at Heroes will continue to do what we can and what we must to ensure that these youth, the future of our nation, are reached, supported, encouraged, and empowered to make positive impacts on our society.

Before we move into the rest of today’s proceedings, I would like to especially thank our Board of Directors, who volunteer their time, talents, and treasure to support all that we do at Heroes. 

I personally want to thank them for their faith in me, their support, and their guidance.  Having such a team of renowned professionals willing to empower a 30-year-old as CEO of an organisation, to encourage, advise, counsel, and trust, has truly been remarkable.

They believe in all that Heroes has done over the last 19 years and are putting in the hard work to support our continued transition.

I’d also like to especially thank our founder, Philip Julien, for this dream and vision.

And our chairman, Monty Pemberton, for being a mentor and guide as we work in the interest of youth in Trinidad and Tobago.

DREAM . BELIEVE . INSPIRE . MENTOR . EMPOWER

That’s the Heroes operating philosophy, and I am pleased to have you all as part of this journey.

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