JIS News

Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Olivia Grange has reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to continue investment in programmes focussed on addressing the problems faced by the country’s youth, especially the vulnerable and dysfunctional.
“This administration has a very tender spot for our children, and we have made it a priority to address their problems, primarily crime and violence directed at children, as urgently as we can,” she stated.
Minister Grange was addressing the Possibility Programme (PP) Christmas Dinner and Graduation Ceremony, held last night (Dec. 8), at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston. Five boys graduated from the programme with another two receiving special awards.
The Possibility Programme is a multi-agency project comprising a care centre, a skills employment facility, annual re-socialisation camps and a youth hostel. It aims to: develop a co-ordinated approach to the social problems of street children; remove children and youth, who wipe windscreens at intersections and have them enrolled in skills training, academic learning, apprenticeship and job placement; as well as stem the flow of children on the streets.
To date, the programme has taken in some 500 boys and has helped to reconnect a number of them to the traditional educational system, while the large majority have been assisted in learning skills and certification through the HEART/NTA.
Ms. Grange said that as Minister with responsibility for the Possibility Programme, she is determined to make it a success and intends to bring all the relevant parties together “so that we can create a national partnership to save our youths”.
“I believe that we can make a significant impact on the problems if we get all the public bodies and Non Governmental Organisations working together to ensure that we fully exploit all the resources that are available to us,” she said, noting that, “I look forward to working with the Ministry of Health and Environment, under which the Child Development Agency falls, the Ministry of Education, which deals with the training and educating of the youth as well as the Parenting Commission”.
Appealing for private sector support in the effort, the Minister said: “the returns are invaluable and transparent in the context of the crimes and the level of violence and extortion affecting the environment, and the businesses themselves.”
Minister Grange also made a special appeal to the boys in the programme “to have hope and to make use of the opportunities,” while informing that the Ministry is looking at expanding the programme to include girls.
“I promise the girls that I will be looking at the possibility of extending this programme to include you too, because there are a lot of young girls on the streets,” she stated.
The Possibility Programme was implemented in 2001 by the Office of the Prime Minister, through the Programme Co-ordinating and Monitoring Unit (PUMU). As at April 2008, operation of the programme was transferred to the Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports.