- Residents of 11 communities close to the University of Technology’s (UTech) Papine campus are to benefit from a series of interventions aimed at strengthening community systems and to reach unengaged youth.
- Beneficiary communities are Maryland, August Town, Irish Town, Mavis Bank, Content Gap, Woodford, Constitution Hill, Dallas, Gordon Town, Papine, and St. Peter.
- Key agencies will also be on hand to provide services and information on justice, security, healthy lifestyle, education and training, and how to access documents. Basic health services will be provided.
Residents of 11 communities close to the University of Technology’s (UTech) Papine campus are to benefit from a series of interventions aimed at strengthening community systems and to reach unengaged youth.
The initiative, dubbed ‘Papine Wellness Fest’, involves collaboration among the University of Technology (UTech), the Papine Development Area Committee (PDAC) and the Social Development Commission (SDC).
Beneficiary communities are Maryland, August Town, Irish Town, Mavis Bank, Content Gap, Woodford, Constitution Hill, Dallas, Gordon Town, Papine, and St. Peter.
The interventions will be implemented over a six-week period from February 20 to 26 beginning in August Town. Activities will be clustered around four hub communities, with the adjoining communities to participate in engagements around a specific hub.
The primary focus of the wellness fest is to strengthen the social and economic fabric of communities, and empower young people towards wholesome activities and away from the lure of crime and other antisocial behaviour.
Wellness fest will be used as an avenue to build community-based organisations and encourage greater advocacy for community needs.
Activities will include workshops, training sessions, community workday, and community fair and sport events.
Key agencies will also be on hand to provide services and information on justice, security, healthy lifestyle, education and training, and how to access documents. Basic health services will be provided.
The series will culminate with a grand event at UTech, which will include display and sale of products made by citizens, entertainment, wellness fair and the finals of the sports competition.
Director of Community Services and Development at UTech, Paulton Gordon, told JIS News that last year a mini-version of the wellness week called ‘UTech Connect’ was held, which proved to be a success and the institution decided to extend its intervention.
“We thought we wanted to go a bit bigger this year and get more stakeholders involved,” he said.
“We’ll be having health fairs and service fairs, so when we go into the communities we will be bringing for example, our dental students, so the youngsters and other residents will benefit that way.
For the services, we’re bringing in agencies such as the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) and Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) to provide Tax Registration Number (TRN),” he indicated.
Mr. Gordon told JIS News that SDC was sought as a partner because “they are on the ground, they can get us into some of these communities quite easily and seamlessly.”
He said the SDC is also assisting the institution to tailor the services to meet the needs of particular communities.
“We’re going into a number of communities to leverage our competencies and skills to the benefit of the communities. We also wanted residents to be aware of career opportunities and possibilities, so we want to cherry-pick and determine what will benefit each community,” he noted.
Field Supervisor at the SDC, Darron Murray, said the agency will be charged with mobilising the communities and in the execution of some of the activities, including taking part in some workshops.
He said the SDC is a perfect partner with UTech on the undertaking as the organisation is involved in every community islandwide.
He noted that the SDC works with the different governance and youth groups in the Papine Development Area.
“We pride ourselves in being able to work with any group that wants to partner with us in community development. We also want to bring our message across about the programmes that we offer, in particular the Local Economic Development Support Programme, where persons and groups can become entrepreneurs and start economic enterprises,” he pointed out.
Mr. Murray told JIS News that he is upbeat about the intervention and feels it is a model that can be replicated across the island.