December 1, 2021 11:00 am

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (MECYS) through the Department of Sport and its executive arm, the National Sports Institute (NSI) collaborated with the St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) and the Netherlands Red Cross (NLRC) in the development of the community spaces at the Raoul Illidge Sport Complex (RISC) and the Melford Hazel Sport complex (MHSC). The Director of the NSI on behalf of the Minister of ECYS signed a user/care agreement with the community councils of Cayhill and Upper Princess Quarter regarding the community spaces which were developed by the SMDF and NLRC. On hand to commemorate these events were the Minister of ECYS Drs Rodolphe Samuel, the Director of the NSI, the Department Head of Sports and representatives of the Cayhill Community council and the Upper Princess quarter community council.

The community spaces project first started in January of 2020 to create accessible, open areas where persons could socialize in welcoming environments. Several spaces were identified in consultation with SMDF, NLRC, MECYS and NSI including the outdoor spaces at the MHSC and the RISC which are now being presented to the communities that those facilities are located in. The Cayhill community council and Dukes Drive Residents Association and Suckergarden community leaders Association were instrumental in the development and planning of the community spaces which reflects the desires of those communities.

The Department of Sport is excited about the development of the community spaces and will continue to collaborate with the various community stakeholders. The persons within those communities are encouraged to take ownership, by taking care of and discouraging vandalism to the community spaces which have been developed for all. This collaboration has shown the importance of bringing Government and organizations together to systematically solve existing problems whilst also building collaborative communities. The Minister of ECYS recognized all the hard work of the various stakeholders in coordinating the development of the community spaces and we are all looking forward to seeing the space serve as a vehicle for establishing social cohesion within the community and the stimulation of participation in sport and physical activities.