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A competition to encourage persons to become more involved in the sustainable development of their communities, was officially launched yesterday (November 30), at the Office of the Prime Minister.
Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Professor Kenneth Hall launched the initiative, which is dubbed: The Better Environments for Social Transformation (BEST) Community Competition. Digicel Jamaica Foundation has pledged to provide $10 million to the competition, annually.
Professor Hall noted that the competition would enable community members to not only work together, but it would also provide an opportunity for the strengthening of organizational networks.
“The objectives of the programme will enable us to envision a Jamaica of strong local communities continuously improving the welfare of their residents, and linked to the fostering of civil engagement that will result in a sense of pride and self worth. This competition is seeking to reawaken Jamaicans to the value of community development,” he said.
Professor Hall congratulated the organizers of the competition and encouraged private and public sector organisations to work together to rebuild and sustain new community initiatives.
Minister of Information and Development, Donald Buchanan, delivered Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller’s address.
The Prime Minister noted that communities have a very important role to play in the development of the country.
“Their involvement is absolutely necessary in ensuring that the values and attitudes in our society are restored and maintained at high standards. Their participation in the many aspects of Jamaican life is vital if we are to succeed as a nation,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.
She encouraged all Jamaicans to support the BEST Community Competition, as it sought to improve the environment, educational institutions, health, waste management and the way in which the country dealt with natural disasters.
“All of us must be involved if we are to ensure that Jamaica, our country, becomes what we would like it to be.Let us all work together in a non-partisan way to make this competition successful, because if we succeed in uniting communities to help themselves and to get involved in job creation, planning, protection and development of their environment, then nothing can stop us as a nation,” the Prime Minister emphasised.
Meanwhile, Jacqueline daCosta, Chairman of the National Steering Committee for the BEST Community Competition expressed appreciation to the public and private sector organisations that are involved in the competition and encouraged community groups to work together to create projects and programmes that would enhance their surroundings.
Communities which are interested in becoming a part of the competition can collect application forms, brochures and guidelines at the Social Development Commission’s regional offices islandwide, as well as Parish Council offices from December 1. Application closes on February 16, 2007.