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JIS News

The Clarendon Youth Council, a project of the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD) in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, was officially launched in May Pen on February 26.
The council is targeted at young people age 12 to 29 years, and aims to empower them through the provision of educational, employment and other opportunities.
Council president Damion Young, who spoke to JIS News at the launch held at the Hotel Versalles, noted that, “for far too long, we’ve had young people almost victimized and it seems as if there’s absolutely no way out. Now the Clarendon Youth Council wants to make a dent in that (situation) and an extremely significant one at that, so today’s function is really to kick-start our intention to.start programmes to empower young people, so wherever we can find the opportunities, we will go at it.”
He informed that the council had retained the services of a youth empowerment officer, who will be charged with seeking resources and opportunities for young people.
Already identified are employment opportunities through the Jamalco expansion project, training through HEART Trust/NTA and the Jamaica 4-H movement, scholarships from the government through the National Youth Council and self-employment schemes, with one project already underway in Spaulding where young persons are involved in chicken rearing.
Mr. Young, who is a teacher at Spaulding Primary School, informed that while the council’s activities were targeted at all young people, it did not now have the resources to reach those in challenging situations, such as those on the streets or in volatile communities.
He noted however, that the group was seeking to build capacity to reach those on the fringes.
Stacy Ann Morrison, council treasurer and teacher at Central High School, told JIS News that all youth organizations in the parish fell under the Clarendon Youth Council. “It is the voice of all youth organizations in Clarendon and we have monthly meetings every fourth Saturday at the May Pen Primary School, where we invite all youth organizations to participate, whether they are community clubs, youth clubs, or fellowship groups,” she informed.
Meanwhile, second vice president Constable Odale Mulgrave, said that a key goal was to bring back into operation, dormant or defunct youth groups, and to help them establish meaningful activities.
He noted also, that the body would be seeking greater participation in the process of governance. “What we’re looking at is to develop some form of legislation where we can channel these issues to Cabinet.to let the voice of the youth be heard in Cabinet, allow legislation to involve the youth because we are the ones facing the problems so it hard for them to develop strategies, which don’t involve consultation with us,” he said.
Constable Mulgrave informed that in addition to the official launch, the council’ schedule of activities for the year include visits to various schools and clubs in March; a road march in April; a forum on HIV/AIDS and teenage pregnancy and Labour Day activities in May.
Members will be engaged in community projects during the months of June and July; a fun day in August; an exposition in September; a social in October; and youth month activities in November.
Guest speaker for the launch, Andre Palmer, who is the Youth Ambassador for Jamaica, challenged the young people to position themselves educationally and develop skills to effectively compete globally.
He noted that the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), would bring greater competition for jobs, and “we have to work harder, work longer and work smarter”.
He further challenged the youth council to lobby Parliament to assist in the provision of the necessary tools and opportunities to empower young people.
The Clarendon Youth Council is comprised of a ten-member executive and various project and activity sub-committees.