Co-founder and Director of Rise (St.Lucia) Inc
We had the opportunity to sit down with Dr Stephen King, director of RISE (St. Lucia) Inc. to discuss his views on youth, his journey as a philanthropist , the development of RISE and its initiatives that provide a voice to St. Lucia’s youth. He talks about his challenges and the successes of RISE over the last twelve years. He highlights various initiatives that RISE has undertaken including most recently, the Safe Spaces Program for youth – a program that he believes can be replicated in other Caribbean countries. Dr.King’s perspective exemplifies the passion, dedication and perseverance of a businessman and philanthropist giving back to his country for over a decade and still going strong.
What was the inspiration and motivation behind the founding of RISE?
We have a youth problem in St.Lucia which often stems from adverse child experiences with regards to disease, mental health issues and anti-social behaviour. So we are trying to create communities and households that minimise adverse child experiences by eliminating domestic violence, emotional, sexual and physical abuse. In addition, a lot of communities have weak safety nets. They do not have access to resources and services so there is a lack of knowledge in areas such as how to start a business, access to finance, available jobs and skills needed. So it is no wonder that marginalized communities become more marginalized. When youth are disengaged, hopeless and helpless, there is a problem. We wanted to address that in a pro-social way. We are actually closing a circle on what I’d call ‘holistic development’ of a particularly young person you have engaged.
How has RISE evolved over the years?
RISE was the brainchild of three of us, Jonathan Andrew-Rose, Dr. Jacqueline Bird and myself. It is anchored by Dr. Bird and myself. It is very small but its strength is in its flexibility. It is project based we will expand to achieve the goal of the project and once completed it will shrink then move on to another project. We have had over 200 volunteers working with us. We have achieved a lot over the years. For example, we delivered and managed the World Pediatric Program for five years. Children gained access to…