Remarks by Ambassador Theriot at National Youth with Disabilities Conference

Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Nicole Theriot
National Youth with Disabilities Conference   
November 24, 2023

Honorable Charles Ramson, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Mr. Ganesh Singh, and executives of the Guyana Council of Organizations for People with Disabilities or G-C-O-P-D,
Conference participants,
Members of the media,

Good morning!

It is a pleasure to have an opportunity to participate in this opening ceremony of the national conference for youth with disabilities. I look forward to learning more about the incredible work you accomplished since the inaugural conference and the impact it has had on the lives of people with disabilities, and more importantly the outcome from your discussions over the next two days.

I understand it was just one year ago when many of the participants present today gathered for Guyana’s first national conference for youth with disabilities—an amazing milestone, and I’m sure, a proud moment. One year later, there’s so much you’ve accomplished.

Not least among these is G-C-O-P-D’s partnership under U-S-A-I-D’s Youth ALLIES program, which resulted in G-C-O-P-D becoming the first ever disability rights organization to be accredited as elections observers in Guyana.

More than 40 young people, including many of you present here today, visited more than 550 polling stations during local elections on Monday, June 12, 2023. You monitored how accessible the election process was for people with disabilities and provided real-time observation of the local government election processes. The recommendations you have set forth in your final report provides clear standards for Guyana to create access for all in the voting process and helps strengthen a vital democratic institution.

Equally important is the work you did leading up to local government elections.  Many of you encouraged Guyanese across the country to vote on election day, and through Youth ALLIES community action grants, you used and continue to use your skills and contacts to create positive change in your communities.

But, you’re here today because the your work is not done. I’m sure you’ll use this national conference to set more ambitious goals for yourselves both collectively and individually. I look forward to partnering with you to effectively advocate for full rights and inclusion and a participatory role in decision making at the national, regional, and local levels.

You’re showing that young people with disabilities, like all youth, must be valued as equal partners in development. For that to happen we must create an inclusive society that recognizes and supports each individual’s equal participation. Your advocacy will continue to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

The U.S. Government recognizes the importance of young people as positive change agents and will continue to empower young Guyanese through our U-S-A-I-D programs, initiatives of the Public Affairs Section and other departments across the embassy.  Through these programs, and through our partnerships with government, civil society and private businesses, we will continue to champion inclusion of all in the country’s development as well as the benefits which accrue from this process. I applaud the work that the G-C-O-P-D has done in the past and continues to do.

The United States will continue to be your partner and champion in that work.  During my time here I intend to meet with civil society—especially youth.  I hope to hear your thoughts, opinions, and recommendations on how we can best support Guyana’s development.

Thank you and best wishes for a successful conference.