Candid conversation with the
RECREATION AND SPORTS SECRETARY,
WALDEMAR VOLMAR MÉNDEZ,
about immediate plans for
INITIATIVES OF HIS WORK PLATFORM TOWARDS THE YOUTH
On the first of July of the present year, the Youth Affairs Office - Oficina de Asuntos de la Juventud (OAJ as its spanish acronym) will be integated to the Recreation and Sports Department - Departamento de Recreación y Deportes (DRD as its spanish acronym). As is public knowledge, the OAJ had been annexed as a program to the Department of Economic Development and Commerce - Departamento de Desarrollo Económico y Comercio (DEEC as its spanish acronym), giving incentives to young entrepreneurs with the vision of creating micro enterprises; it really was a program that always existed when the OAJ was an independent agency, well, what is now intended is to integrate and expose an innovative project that allows young people to experience a greater global vision.
Young people were traveling thanks to the cultural travel program, and beyond living the experience, there was no continuity where that trip would redound, no final objective, so the idea is to unite both projects, so that the participants travel the world looking for business alternatives with a common goal, so that at the end of the day, that investment made by the state, promoting culture and world vision to young people, stretch further and bring tangible benefits to the country.
Furthermore, the OAJ will continue to sponsor programs related to Fine Arts, Speech and Leadership Contests, in order to prepare our future leaders, feat very close to reality, since in 2004, when Bernier was the Secretary, I received the Puerto Rican Youth Award and the Governor’s Award as well, where ironically, for the first time, the secretary of the DRD was the director of the OAJ.
Now, with the passing of the years, for the second time, this distinction is fulfilled, which is why we will continue to give a little more meaning to the traditional programs that, today, before the fiscal crisis, have a different aspect.
PARKS AND RECREATIONAL AREAS PROGRAMS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Coincidentally, these past days, we met with Andrés ‘Piwi’ Garcia, a Puerto Rico Senior Basketball League (BSN) player, and a native of Levitown, who personally rescued a basketball court completely abandoned for 15 years in his hometown , to support him in everything that we can with his initiative.
Currently, I think it is imperative that this resurgence comes from the community itself, and the DRD as such, be an active participant providing such support to carry it out, so much so, that during this interview, a department brigade is meeting the needs of the aforementioned community.
Due to the fiscal crisis, should be specified, that stricter control has been implemented regarding the requests that reach the DRD, with the purpose of being more efficient and accommodating a greater scope of aid.
We want to make clear, with this assertion, that there is a great need to promote pro-activism, as did Piwi, that is to say, volunteering. Citizens should not wait for the government to be solely responsible for the communities, people can offer their help, not necessarily economic, but with hands on, which is a very valuable resource, so alliances can be formed between the DRD, volunteers and, perhaps, nearby businesses, willing to transform recreational and sports areas for the collective benefit.
SPORTS TOURISM INITIATIVES
The Recreational and Cultural Tourism Office seeks to increase or support initiatives that promote sports tourism on the island. A palpable example of this was our initiative for the rehabilitation of the Cerrilo Reservoir in Ponce for the Pan-American Dragon Boat, where together, with other governmental entities, an area used for the Mayagüez 2010 Central American Games, abandoned by the government, was regenerated to welcome about 500 athletes from different parts of the world, which in turn generated $1.8 million for Puerto Rico.
The resources of the DRD, it should be mentioned, can not encompass everything, but they are made available for this type of initiatives with the intention of forming a common block that encourages measures in helping inject the country’s economy, if other countries implement it, why not Puerto Rico. For example, we have the necessary infrastructure to provide sports training venues to US colleges during the winter time, since on our island, thanks to the tropical climate we enjoy twelve months of the year, is totally feasible.
| July 2017 |