Feature
(FILE) A peace mural mounted on Downer Avenue in the Swallowfield community on Saturday (December 7), under the Ministry of National Security's ‘Liv Gud’ campaign.
Photo: Contributed

The Ministry of National Security says its recently held ‘Liv Gud’ Music, Sports and Technology (MST) Summer School programme is testament of the Ministry’s continued vision to engage youth to facilitate their holistic development.

More than 400 students from six primary schools in communities in the St. Andrew South Division and Mount Salem and Flanker in St. James participated in the three-week programme.

Chief Technical Director (Acting) in the Ministry, Shauna Trowers, tells JIS News that the Ministry saw it as crucial to engage students, especially as physical learning was affected earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief Technical Director (Acting) in the Ministry of National Security, Shauna Trowers.

 

“We wanted to look for students in particular volatile areas that would have been vulnerable through the pressures of the pandemic. We looked through all the areas and we targeted St. Andrew South Division and Mount Salem/Flanker in St. James,” she adds.

Miss Trowers explains that MST is a useful tool that the Ministry has been employing to reach youth across the country since 2018.

“There is varied research that speaks to different programmes that address developmental issues or psychosocial issues, and the Ministry has looked at target areas that have been proven successfully regionally and internationally that are geared at specific life skills or capabilities that we trying to encourage among youth,” she says.

“We have taken a comprehensive approach using not only MST but merging it with infusing issues of remedial and personal development. The MST acts as a conduit to facilitate personal development and life skills such as conflict resolution,” Miss Trowers adds.

According to Miss Trowers, the focus on children that are still at the primary school level is also reflective of a part of the Ministry’s emphasis on crime prevention through rehabilitation and personal development of youth.

“The Ministry is now focusing its energy on youth between eight and 16 years of age. We are providing for social intervention for other age groups, but we had to look at where we find the maladaptive behaviour beginning, and we found that when they reach high schools it might be too late,” she says.

“We looked at models that show that children that are exposed to violence and who suffer from trauma, their learning ability and their developmental skills are affected, so we wanted to address that age cohort in which we thought there may be a gap,” Miss Trowers tells JIS News.

The programme saw students benefiting from basic lessons in animation, art and craft, music and basketball, and also sessions focused on enhancing their numeracy, literacy and conflict resolution skills.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda (centre); and Assistant Commissioner of Police, Donovan Graham (left), look at a drawing done by a student, at the closing out ceremony and exhibition for the ‘Liv Gud’ summer programme, held at the Dupont Primary and Infant School​ in St. Andrew, in July. At right is Country Representative, Department for International Development (DFID), David Osborne.

 

Miss Trowers notes that personal development, especially in the area of conflict resolution, is a crucial aspect of the programme.

“There is nothing wrong with conflict, but there is a problem with how we resolve conflict, so that is where we have to bring it back, looking at crime within the context of a public health model, moving from not just the community, but also to the household and the individual. We wanted to start with the kids and see how do we gauge our triggers, how to express feelings and we started with this age group,” she says.

She adds that the Ministry’s intent is a comprehensive impact, so they will continue working with stakeholders to provide a case management approach where the family is included, as well as to provide these kinds of remedies where the entire community is impacted.

Speaking with JIS News, Principal of the Greenwich All-Age, Brian Guscott, lauds the Ministry for its vision in engaging youth through media that connects with young persons.

“It is extremely important to use MST to reach our youth, because one of the things we have to understand is that persons have different skills and intelligence. Sometimes we overlook the person who is not doing well academically, but those skills need to be honed, so exposure to MST allowed them that avenue to see the kind of aptitude they have for these areas and see if this is something they can channel into a career,” he tells JIS News.

Mr. Guscott notes that the participating students gave rave reviews for the programme.

“The children were excited because they have been home for months. They also had additional areas in technology, such as animation, that they would not have had in their regular schools, so they were happy to be exposed to this,” he says.

Liv Gud is a national anti-violence campaign spearheaded by the Ministry of National Security that aims to promote the value of respect for each other, the sanctity of life, and law and public order.

It includes extensive community engagement initiatives geared towards disrupting criminal activity, restoring public order and public safety, while encouraging social responsibility among each and every Jamaican citizen.

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