Over 400 young people, who are involved in the private sector coalition-led, Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE) initiative, participated in one day healthy lifestyle expo on Friday (Nov. 30), at the Breezy Castle Complex at Harbour Street, downtown Kingston.
The event was aimed at, among other things, providing the participants with information on a range of essential services, provided by both private and public sector entities. It was staged under the theme: ‘Celebrate You; Celebrate YUTE; Celebrate Youth’, was held as part of activities marking November as Youth Month.
Programme Manager for YUTE, Maureen Webber, told JIS News that the decision to stage the expo stemmed from the frequency of enquiries made by the participants on how and where certain essential services could be accessed.
To this end, Ms. Webber said some 23 private and public sector entities, who were contacted, consented to participate in the expo, and mounted booths highlighting a wide range of displays and information.
These, she informed, included: the Registrar General’s Department (RGD); Child Development Agency (CDA); Students Loan Bureau (SLB); Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF); Citizen Security Justice programme (CSJP); Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) First Heritage Cooperative Credit Union; and Access Financial Services Limited. The day also saw the young people participating in several competitions, including karaoke, cooking, deejaying, and singing.
In expressing satisfaction with the day’s outcome, Ms. Webber, who is also Chairman of the National Youth Service (NYS), said the organizers would explore the possibility of staging similar activities in other parts of the island. This, she pointed, was based on requests that have been made.
“What it tells you is how much information young people really need and want and we need to (find a way) to bring services to people,” she said.
Youth and Culture Minister, Hon. Lisa Hanna, who spoke at the expo, said the event supported the general view that no matter what a person’s status may be, there are and will always be opportunities, particularly for young people, to advance themselves.
Education Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, in his remarks, commended the YUTE initiative, describing it as a “good programme”. He also urged the participants to take steps, where necessary, to improve themselves academically in order to be more marketable, and take advantage of job opportunities in an increasingly competitive global environment.
Kingston’s Mayor, Senator Angela Brown Burke, commended the young people involved in YUTE, citing that it showed they are prepared to take charge of their destinies and determine what their future will be.
President of the Private Sector organization of Jamaica (PSOJ), which heads the coalition implementing YUTE, Christopher Zacca, said the organization and government are committed to ensuring resources and other inputs are channeled in activities, which will develop the nation’s youth, thereby ensuring they can contribute meaningfully to national development.
YUTE is a holistic programme designed to empower young people in troubled communities by improving their employability through mentorship and skills upgrading; entrepreneurship opportunities; as well as opportunities for gainful employment.
This is being pursued through a two-year programmatic approach, which also seeks to address the root causes of crime and violence in the over 30 inner-city communities, across Kingston and St. Andrew, from which the 2,200 participants are drawn. These communities include: Denham Town, Jones Town, Olympic Gardens, Trench Town, Mountain View and Tivoli Gardens.
The YUTE programme is being implemented on a phased basis, with the initial period running between January 2011 and August 2013.