JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) has moved to capitalise on the success of one of its latest Community Renewal Programme (CRP) initiatives - the staging of Parenting and Stress Management workshops.
  • Held under the theme: ‘Know Your Child’, the workshops were staged in collaboration with, and funded by international humanitarian non-governmental organisation, the Art of Living Foundation (AOLF).
  • Given the success arising from these sessions, the CRP is seeking to extend the programme to other communities.

The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) has moved to capitalise on the success of one of its latest Community Renewal Programme (CRP) initiatives – the staging of Parenting and Stress Management workshops over three days in the community of Parade Gardens, downtown Kingston, in November 2014.

Held under the theme: ‘Know Your Child’, the workshops were staged in collaboration with, and funded by international humanitarian non-governmental organisation, the Art of Living Foundation (AOLF).

The objectives of the workshops were to: explain children’s behaviour; teach parents ways in which to establish and maintain dialogue with, and spend quality time with their children; teach parents simple stress management techniques; and provide insight into the nature of the mind and ways to handle it.

Given the success arising from these sessions, the CRP is seeking to extend the programme to other communities.

The CRP’s Technical Specialist for Socio-Economic Development, Charmaine Brimm, tells JIS News that it is anticipated that this will provide opportunities to further leverage other programmes offered by the AOLF, such as drug de-addiction, disaster relief, environmental sustainability, and women empowerment for implementation in the other 99 communities deemed vulnerable and volatile.

She informs that the workshops followed last May’s successful joint staging of another community initiative, the ‘Gas Pro Street Style Cook-Up’ Food Festival and Competition, with cooking gas retailer, Massy Gas Products Limited (GASPRO).

That engagement was aimed at assisting to strengthen and enhance the community’s entrepreneurship and socio-economic framework.

Ms. Brimm informs that following the success of the street style cook-up project in Parade Gardens, discussions were held with representatives of the Parade Gardens Benevolent Society, and reference made to the community profiles and priority plans developed by the Social Development Commission (SDC), to explore other possible areas for interventions.

The issue of parenting was identified as a key priority area for focus, which required immediate attention.

“Parade Gardens is a big community, comprising over 11,000 residents, of which at least 60 per cent of its citizens are young people, between the ages of 0 and 25 years. Thus, a significant percentage of those persons who are parents are, in fact, young people. Hence, the rationale for interventions, such as these parenting workshops, can be readily understood as one tool to address these existing and potential challenges,” Ms. Brimm tells JIS News.

“We are very proud of the achievements resulting from these workshops, which saw the participation of 135 parents over the three-day period. Additionally, as part of ensuring sustainability, two reminder posters were created by the AOLF team and placed within the community centre. Additionally, three participants will receive training from the AOLF as community resource persons,” she adds.

International Programme Director, AOLF, Dushyant Savadia, tells JIS News that the AOLF, which has been operating in Jamaica since 2012, readily agreed to come on board with this programme, having found the PIOJ’s CRP team to be “structured, efficient and keen, as demonstrated in their execution of previous projects.”

He points out that the CRP team members demonstrated a similar approach in the coordination, launch, and execution of the AOLF’s ‘Know Your Child’ parenting and stress management programmes, which ensured the success of these workshops.

Mr. Savadia explains that the parenting workshop explored factors often causing breakdowns in relationships between parents and children.

“The child perceives and responds to many things differently to how adults do. So, when they (children) display certain types of behaviour, such as stubbornness, anger or aggression, or don’t seem to be eating properly, there are reasons for these. Unfortunately, some parents don’t seem equipped to handle such situations in the best way possible. As a result, this leads to a breakdown in communication and relationships,” he explains.

Mr. Savadia says the sessions helped the participants understand how best to create environments “conducive to their (children’s fulsome) growth…. making them more creative… thinking more (positively) about themselves… and making them more efficient and self-reliant.”

As it relates to the stress management workshop, Mr. Savadia says that focused on engaging parents about ways in which they can effectively manage their emotions, particularly in relation to challenges regarding their children and in the home.

“So, we placed a lot of emphasis on helping parents to understand that their mindset, behaviour, attitude and actions can be, and are often emulated by their children. Hence, the need to be mindful of the manner in which they interface with children, and the patterns of behaviour displayed in the presence of the youngsters,” he notes.

Meanwhile, two residents of Parade Gardens, and workshop participants, Norman Brown and Dahlia Francis, have hailed the initiative.

Mr. Brown, who is Treasurer of the Parade Gardens Benevolent Society, describes the workshops as being “wonderful for me…and the community.”

“When the idea of the workshops came up, we were on board with it 100 per cent. We knew that, based on the challenges associated with parenting in our community, particularly with violence, we wanted something like that to reform our community,” he tells JIS News.

Mr. Brown notes that the workshops were “mind and eye opening,” and provided a “new way of looking at parenting and stress management.”

“I am now better able to relate to my child. So, rather than focusing solely on being a disciplinarian, through Art of Living, I have learnt how to let my child be my friend, and how I can become more meaningfully involved in my child’s life, rather than seeing any negative action displayed as being burdensome. Now, we actually share more together, in terms of what is happening in our lives…and importantly, we are communicating (much better),” he shares.

Ms. Francis, who is a member of the Parade Gardens Benevolent Society’s Planning Committee, expresses similar sentiments, noting that based on occurrences in the community, the initiative was a “well-needed project.”

“There were times when I would shout at my child…to do this or do that. But having been exposed to the workshops, I have been helped greatly. Those workshops have enabled me and others who attended, to be better parents. The parents, on a whole, really loved them,” she adds.

Ms. Brimm says the positive feedback and endorsement have also come from other participants, through testimonials submitted, expressing a desire to attend other workshops.

“The testimonials speak to the impact the workshops had on the participants. It is good when you find programmes that will have an impact immediately,” she notes.

Ms. Brimm says it is the CRP’s wish that the Art of Living Foundation will take the parenting programme to the remaining 99 communities across the five parishes of Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Clarendon, and St. James, which are earmarked for interventions.

For his part, Mr. Savadia says the Foundation is committed to the programme and that its support will continue.

The CRP, which is a 10-year programme, is the Government’s coordinating mechanism for the effective and efficient service delivery of social programmes in 100 of the island’s most volatile and vulnerable communities. These are located in Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Clarendon, and St. James.

Phase one is currently being carried out in 17 communities within downtown Kingston, and the Three Miles area of St. Andrew.

The CRP coordinates initiatives around six pillars: Governance, Safety and Justice, Socio-Economic Development, Youth Development, Social Transformation, and Physical Transformation, in order to effectively address adverse occurrences, such as murder, volatility, low employment and literacy.

The end result is to achieve a change in the community’s character, and long-term benefits for the residents.

The goal of the CRP is to see: ‘citizens in vulnerable and volatile areas empowered to live full and satisfied lives and contribute to the attainment of secure, cohesive, and just communities in healthy environments’.

This is in accordance with the four Goals of the long-term National Development Plan, National Vision 2030 Jamaica.

Its implementation is consistent with the Government’s job creation and economic strategic priority, focusing on enhancing functional and harmonious relations between the State and civil society; and also improved security and safety, with a focus on preserving and enhancing a secure and protective environment to facilitate individual pursuits and economic/investment activities.

The AOLF works in a special consultative role with the United Nations (UN), and is affiliated with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The Foundation’s engagements in Jamaica have included: stress management seminars and workshops conducted for the Ministries of National Security, and Youth and Culture; and training for corporate firms, such as Paymaster Jamaica Limited and the Guardsman Group.

Additionally, they have conducted programmes at Haile Selassie High School in St. Andrew, targeting nearly 400 youth, as well as imparted the Stress Management and Rehabilitation Training (SMART) programme to hundreds of inmates at correctional institutions in Kingston.

The AOLF has also implemented community projects within inner-city communities in Kingston, St. Andrew, and Montego Bay.