Minister with responsibility for Sports, Hon. Natalie Neita-Headley, said the Government remains committed to building and expanding on the untapped resources that reside in the nation’s youth and putting the necessary measures in place to facilitate their development.
“It is our belief that in order to ensure that Jamaica is indeed, a place of choice to live, to do business and to raise a family, the foundation must be cultivated in our youth,” Mrs. Neita Headley said, while addressing a St. Catherine Stakeholders’ Participatory meeting on Thursday (June 7) at the St. James Cathedral, Spanish Town.
The meeting was held to discuss matters concerning the construction of the St. Catherine Youth Information Centre (YIC) and National Youth Service (NYS) Training Centre, which is currently underway in Spanish Town.
The Minister said that the establishment of the facility is one strategy being implemented “to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to ensure the creation of these legacies."
“Indeed, this centre is intended to provide a youth-friendly space where young people will feel safe and ‘unintimidated’ as they explore their possibilities. This…is to be a premier resource centre, which will facilitate the development of our young people in a holistic manner,” she said.
Mrs. Neita-Headley implored the community members to avail themselves of all the opportunities that will become available at the centre, which will include information about alternative dispute resolution strategies and safe sexual practises, counselling sessions, and a homework centre.
“I expect this centre to be a magnet that will draw young people together. I also expect that the support mechanism will be in place to ensure the positive transformation of the lives of our targeted youth,” she said.
“This is a community venture. It belongs to the community. It must be supported and nurtured for the young people of the community” she stressed.
The construction of the centre falls under the Youth Development Programme (YDP), which is a four and a half year initiative funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Under the project, provisions have been made for the construction of four YICs in St. Catherine, Clarendon, Trelawny and Hanover. This is addition to the six existing YICs across the island. Construction of the Clarendon centre is underway in May Pen.
The stakeholders’ fora, which convened in November, aim to promote ongoing stakeholder participation, communication and information-sharing in the construction phase of the projects. Sessions have been held in communities in May Pen and Spanish Town.
The sessions, which are organised by the Ministry of Youth and Culture in collaboration with the National Centre for Youth Development (NYCD) and the NYS, also seek to update the leadership from the broad categories of stakeholders listed for the parish, including government agencies, civil society, private sector, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based organisations (CBOs) and encourage the formation of a St. Catherine Stakeholders’ Working Group (SCSWG).
The SCSWG will assist in keeping the larger beneficiary population in the parish regularly informed of project milestones, accomplishments, as well as the benefits, which the use of the facilities will provide to young people, particularly unattached youths.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter