Junior Minister for Tourism Sharie de Castro will replaced House of Assembly Speaker Julian Willock in leading the Virgin Islands Youth Parliament. Above, the second VIYP holds its first session on March 11, 2021. (File photo: DANA KAMPA)

A new leader will take charge of managing the Virgin Islands Youth Parliament.

House of Assembly members voted on March 10 to replace House Speaker Julian Willock as chair of the special select committee overseeing the body.

Junior Minister for Tourism Sharie de Castro will take his place.

The programme most recently relaunched in October 2020, when 23 young leaders were sworn in during a ceremony at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College.

Government initially established the programme in 2015, providing participants ages 15 to 29 the opportunity to practise governance.

Current VIYP members held their first session last March, when they debated the merits of self-determination for the VI.

On March 10, Premier Andrew Fahie introduced the motion to change up the composition of the special committee, which will no longer include Mr. Willock.

Sixth District Representative Alvera Maduro-Caines also replaced Junior Minister for Trade and Economic Development Shereen Flax-Charles as a member.

Opposition member Julian Fraser commended youth parliamentarians for their success so far, thanked Mr. Willock for his efforts, and wished Ms. de Castro well in the leadership role for the parliament’s remaining months.

Ms. de Castro said she was humbled by the opportunity to help young people learn about the legislative process and said announcements about upcoming activities would be made public soon.

Ms. Flax-Charles said that although she would no longer be a committee member, she would continue to strongly support the group. She added that her efforts would be more focused on entrepreneurship and trade opportunities for young people.

Deputy Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley said he believed Ms. de Castro would prove to be an exceptional mentor, especially considering that she holds the record as the youngest female representative to be elected in the VI.

Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley added, “I know under Honourable de Castro’s leadership we can only expect more excellent leadership, more innovative leadership. I have every confidence that she will take it to the next level.”