The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has allocated US$625,000 to the youth component of its Partnership for Improved Safety and Security in Schools Programme, in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MOEYI).
The two-year programme, which began in July 2017 and is slated to end in July 2019, is valued at US$3 million.
Project Manager, USAID/MOEYI Partnership for Improved Safety and Security in Schools Programme, Yvonne Brown, tells JIS News that the USAID believes that early intervention is critical for a safe and secure environment.
She adds that this intervention is not only important in schools but should be extended to communities.
“We recognise that if you don’t have a safe and secure environment for students and young people, you will be channelling funds to prisons, so it is better to help correct the issues and problems early. Therefore, interventions are being applied through alternatives such as community youth clubs and uniformed groups,” Ms. Brown says.
Meanwhile, State Minister in the Ministry, Hon. Floyd Green, says young people are looking for a sense of association, belonging and worth, and the Government is committed to ensuring that positive alternatives are provided, especially for at-risk youth.
He commended the USAID for supporting these initiatives within the Ministrythat seek to engage, empower and provide entrepreneurial support and resources to young people.
And, as Jamaica observes Youth Month in November, under the theme ‘Level Up’, the Ministry/USAID, through the Youth Division, is placing special emphasis on several initiatives targeting at-risk youth.
One such is the Community Marching Band Movement, which is receiving well-needed support.
Addressing a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’, Senior Programme Specialist in the Youth and Adolescent Policy Unit, Youth Division, in the Ministry, Kevon Campbell, said Marching bands play a key role in strengthening community safety and security and in bolstering resilience among young people who are at risk of participating in delinquent activities.
With support from the USAID, the Youth Division has been able to generate a database of marching bands, host consultations and workshops geared towards resource mobilisation to put these bands on a path of sustainability.
According to Mr. Campbell, it is not about just learning to play musical instruments, which is important, but it is also about personal development, life skills, training and the support they provide to young people islandwide.
On Sunday, November 25, marching bands from across Jamaica will showcase their talents at an exposition scheduled to be held at the Youth Innovation Centre (YIC) located at the Santa Cruz Community Centre in St. Elizabeth.
A new initiative, which is also getting extensive support from the USAID is the building out of mobile YICs.
Mr. Campbell explained that while there are the block and steel YICs where youth can go, it is important to reach the ones who live far from these centres that are usually located in town centres.
The USAID is providing resources such as laptops, projectors and screens for the officers who go into these communities to facilitate the engagement with young persons who are not able to find a way to get to a YIC. Mobile YICs have been rolled out in Clarendon, St. James, Hanover, Westmoreland, St. Catherine and Portland, with plans to expand to all parishes.
Meanwhile, young persons residing in and around St. Catherine now have access to a fully equipped recording studio, which was constructed under the USAID/MOEYI partnership.
Mr. Campbell said that the studio, which is located at the St. Catherine YIC, 42 Young Street in Spanish Town, is not just a place for young persons to go and record their song but also seeks to promote income-generating activities while actively promoting the development of musical entrepreneurs.
Several training workshops have been conducted to expose the youth to areas such as song writing, audio recording and vocal control.
“The youth have been putting out their material, and we are looking to see how we can utilise this kind of intervention to support their community development effort, while also supporting their capacity to generate income for themselves and sustain themselves in a meaningful way,” Mr. Campbell said. Revitalisation of community youth clubs across the island is also receiving support under the programme.
With assistance from the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development through the Social Development Commission (SDC), the MOEYI has been working assiduously in reviving community youth clubs islandwide.
The USAID is supporting the Youth Division with the launch of a Youth Club Tool Kit in November. This kit will include a website and a mobile app.
Mr Campbell pointed out that the initial tool kit was a handbook; however, based on feedback, the youth have indicated that they want something more innovative to which they could readily attached themselves.
Integrated into this app will be features that support youth with their community development, and promote community safety and security to enable young persons, through youth clubs islandwide, to play an active role in peace-building efforts in their communities.
Persons are being encouraged to contact the Youth Division at the Ministry if there is a youth club in their community that needs support; if there is one that is dormant and they want it to be revitalised; or they want to form a youth club where there is a group of young people who may want to come together. For further information on these and other youth programmes within the Ministry, persons can telephone 876-618-5109 or send email to email@example.com.