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Story Highlights

  • The A Ganar Alliance recently hosted a graduation ceremony at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston for its final group of participants, which brought the programme that has been operating in Jamaica since 2009, to a close.
  • Coordinated locally through the Youth-for-Development Network (YFDN), the programme impacted a total of 796 young people between the ages of 16 and 24, from marginalised communities in eight parishes.
  • The programme, which received funding support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), was endorsed by the Ministry of Education.

In 2011, Javan Blake, who lives in Montego Bay, St. James, and describes himself as an ‘unattached youth’ with little family support,  discovered that he was heading towards a life of crime.

Desperate to prevent this from happening, Mr. Blake seized the opportunity to become part of the A Ganar Alliance, a programme led by the international support agency, Partners of the Americas, which aims to tangibly address unemployment of at-risk youth in Latin America and the Caribbean, through training.

The 27-year-old Mr. Blake says the programme became the catalyst for the transformation that has taken place in his life, thus far.

“I don’t really have a strong family background, so I have had to seek other ways and means to get by. By joining the programme, my life changed completely. I was involved in a lot of (inappropriate) things, and this programme helped to motivate me to turn from all those activities that I was indulging in,” he says.

The A Ganar Alliance recently hosted a graduation ceremony at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston for its final group of participants, which brought the programme that has been operating in Jamaica since 2009, to a close.

Coordinated locally through the Youth-for-Development Network (YFDN), the programme impacted a total of 796 young people between the ages of 16 and 24, from marginalised communities in eight parishes.

The programme, which received funding support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), was endorsed by the Ministry of Education.

The non-governmental and community development organisations, through which the programme engaged participants and delivered the training, also received financing support from the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF).

The programme specifically addressed literacy, numeracy, and employability skills, and positioned Jamaica as the pioneer for infusing sports-based activities in the existing A Ganar curriculum.

The programme’s first phase focused on teamwork, communication, respect, and continual self-improvement through the use of sports-based methodologies.

In fact, it was the use of football which originally piqued Mr. Blake’s interest in the programme.

“Football was like icing on the cake. It really attracted me and I can talk for my fellow participants that that is what brought us together and gave us unity,” he points out.

Mr. Blake, who is now a supervisor with Allied Protection Limited, continued to work with the A Ganar Alliance after graduating from the programme, to help in motivating and counselling other young participants.

“There are a lot of youth who look up to me as a leader, so I have to maintain that (status) right now. One of the key things out of the programme is communication and self- improvement. Youngsters have to search themselves first and then find people who can help them and lead them to the right path. They also have to find something that they enjoy doing,” he added.

Yanique Gordon, who hails from Oracabessa, St. Mary, and was part of the 2011 cohort of participants, said she too gained invaluable experience and training through the A Ganar Alliance.

A single mother, Ms. Gordon describes herself as having been lackadaisical and unmotivated. She says through the programme, she learned how to push to achieve success.

“The highlight of the programme for me was just having someone believing in me at a time when I felt so down. You don’t need any money to get into the programme and that also really helped. That was it for me…that they would help somebody in need and not look at them as an outcast,” she states.

Ms. Gordon is now an employee at Sandals Royal Plantation, where she did her internship during her course with the programme. After completing her first year at the resort, she was awarded Team Member of the Year.

She encourages other young people who are struggling to make something of their lives, to grasp opportunities when they arise.

“Go ahead and take that chance, you never can tell. Once you have the motivation and the desire, you will achieve whatever you need in life,” she advises.

Phase two of the programme involved vocational and entrepreneurship training, as well as an introduction to information technology, while phase three engaged participants in internships and apprenticeships.

The programme coordinated with the Ministry of Education to enable some of the participants to acquire certification through the Career Advancement Programme (CAP), HEART Trust/NTA, and City and Guilds.

Of the total number of the participants, 54 per cent have either gained employment, are in school, or have started a business. Sixty-three per cent of those ‘positively engaged’ are male and 41 per cent, female.