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Approximately 195 young people from four inner-city communities have successfully completed a one-year training programme conducted by Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU), which has empowered them with skills to acquire jobs and become ambassadors for their communities.

There were broad smiles and cheers all around as the participants proudly walked up to collect their certificates of achievement at the closing ceremony of Youth Opportunities Unlimited Employability Enhancement Programme, at the Knutsford Hotel in Kingston, on October 6.

The programme was funded by the Japanese Social Development Fund Grant and implemented through the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), at a cost of $12.58 million. The YOU contributed $2.2 million, making the total cost of the project $14.78 million.

The programme’s main objective was to engage 195 at-risk youth between the age of 12 and 29 years, from the communities of Mountain View Avenue, Fletcher’s Land, Kencot and Denham Town in a number of development training areas.  Training was provided in Informational Technology (IT) to 75 persons; Personal Development and Conflict Resolution to 40 youth club leaders; and group mentoring sessions for 80 adolescents aged 12-14 years from the Denham Town High School.

According to YOU trainer, Melvern Powell, who delivered the programme report, many of the participants did so well that they were employed by the company where they did internship. There was special commendation and certification for those completing the IT course. They were taught skills in website design, PC mechanics and practical networking and received certification from Infoserv Institute of Technology.

General Manager, Human Resources and Administration at JSIF, Rhonda Lumsden- Lue, said the YOU programme is about training for life, “and you will find that you have set upon a course that, if you continue to believe in the ideals of self-determination, it will lead to success.”

She noted that JSIF, with the support of its funders, will continue to mobilise resources and channel funds to communities where the need is critical; and implored the participants to make use of the opportunity given to them.

Transformational Speaker, Juleus Ghunta, who was special guest, told the participants that everyone has a right to dream and they should dream big and have a purpose in life. He urged them not to let their circumstance or background limit them, and told his story of how he climbed from poor circumstance to achieve in life.

Participant, Doshaine Reid, who received a Certificate of Merit from the Infoserv Institute of Technology, said he learned how to repair a computer, how to  use programmes like Microsoft and how to deal with people.

“The programme was very beneficial and helped me in a lot of ways. I didn’t know where to turn and I saw the programme advertised on a truck, of all places. I went in, not knowing what to expect , only knowing that I couldn’t afford to pay for anything. They provided lunch and gave me a stipend, which helped me a lot and created employment for me. It was a great experience,” Doshaine said.

Joedian Hickey also benefitted from the programme. “I have learned how to deal with my problems and conflict better, knowing the person I am with a short temper. I am also a mentor for over eight years of this humble institution. The wealth of knowledge that has been imparted to me is very overwhelming and I am honoured to be a part of it,” Joedian said.

Executive Director of YOU, Georgia Lewis Scott, told the participants to “make us proud.” She urged them to take the knowledge garnered from the programme and use it to the fullest, to stand up for themselves and their country, and to be appreciative of the opportunities they received under the programme.