Murdered MI4 security officer Mark Nurse was remembered in prayers at the President’s Awards ceremony for 48 graduates in San Fernando on Saturday evening.
Anthony Franklin, chairman of The President’s Award (TPATT), originally the Duke of Edinburgh Awards before TT became a republic, said Nurse was a graduate of that programme.
Franklin expressed sadness that the long tentacle of crime has touched the programme and asked for him to be remembered in prayers and for those who can to attend his funeral, set for Thursday in Tobago.
One participant from Tobago, Theon Graham, was among the graduates on Saturday who received their pins and certificates from President Paula-Mae Weekes. The President is the patron and a past participant of the programme.
Nurse was killed during a robbery in December at Penny Savers Supermarket, Tobago. He was a member of the Tobago Emergency Management Agency, a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteer, and a member of the Cadet Force and Boys' Brigade.
In spite of the long arms of crime, Franklin said there is hope through the TPATT which is seeking and is available to inform, advise and partner with education and social policy makers, corporate bodies, communities and the church.
“To this end, TPATT has adopted the international strategy of increasing its access, reach and impact, and has opened access to the programmes for at-risk and marginalised young people from the East Port of Spain area.”
Franklin said this has been done by partnering with the Office of Law Enforcement Policy (OLEP) of the Ministry of National Security.
“I am proud to announce that this evening, one of those participants will be receiving her silver award,” he said.
Addressing the President, he said, “Your Excellency, it bears repeating that through its 56 years of existence in TT, the award has proven itself to be one of the most important institutions for youth development because of its extraordinary power to be a force for good in their own lives and in any community.”
He said the programme plays a vital role in providing opportunities for participants to develop essential life skills and make them world ready.
He celebrated the leaders and volunteers of the programme for building the minds and characters of the youths, and sacrificing their time to take them into difficult environments.
“In fact, most past awardees attest to living lives based on a timeless and unchanging foundation of values that are hardly found elsewhere. Those principles and values develop in our youth, the ability to surprise and inspire us with their determination, their character, their resilience, their skills, and their moral and physical courage.
“If we are able to instil these principles in the rest of our young national society, the necessary change that is needed in our country will commence. We will care for our children, our women, our elders, our vulnerable and at-risk youth and our environment. And as you know, that is a measure by which the international community determines how developed a society has become.
“The challenging and negative social environment in communities, homes and schools show that we have much work to do.”