$8 Million for Possibility Programme in the Office of the Prime Minister

The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) will continue to provide resources and support for street children with the aid of $8 million, which has been set aside in the 2007/08 Estimates of Expenditure, for the Possibility Programme.
As set out in the Estimates, which are now before the House of Representatives, the funds will go towards the expansion of training at the skill centre, to include micro business development; continuation of partnership with the Young Men Christian Association for computer training; further development of leather craft skills; convening of two re-socialization camps; and provide services in counselling, anger management, recreation, spiritual, and emotional development.
Implemented in 2001, the programme, through the Coordinating and Monitoring Unit, is administered by an independent board in partnership with non-governmental organisations, government and the private sector. It is aimed at providing support for street children between the ages of eight and 18 to improve their life chances.
Specifically, the programme aims to develop a co-ordinated and proactive approach to the social problem of street children; enroll children and youth, who wipe windscreens at intersections in a project of skills training and academics; stem the flow of children on the streets; assist in the reintegration of children with their families and or schools, where possible; and encourage the participation of stakeholders.
The initiative also seeks to provide temporary shelter and a safe environment for those beneficiaries of the programme that are sleeping on the streets, as a result of social problems in the family or community. These activities are being carried out under four components – a care centre; skills/employment centre; re-socialization camps, and a newly built hostel.
For the 2006/07 fiscal year, a number of goals were met. At the St. Andrew Care Centre, 372 boys were admitted to the programme, while at the Skills Centre, registrants engaged in leather craft training, remedial classes and activities geared toward re-socialization. Seven young men graduated from the centre in December and apprenticeships or further training were provided by the HEART Trust/NTA.
Meanwhile, the fourth re-socialization camp was held at the Jamaica Defence Force training depot in New Castle, and 29 of the 31 boys, who registered for the camp, graduated. Topics covered included behaviour change and goal setting; money management; conflict resolution; sexual and reproductive health and job readiness.
Additionally, a hostel to accommodate 32 boys was built by the Rotary Club of St. Andrew and was officially opened in December of last year. The Possibility Programme falls under the overall Social and Economic Support programme of the OPM.

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