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Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Olivia Grange, is urging support for Government’s social intervention and transformation programmes such as ‘Fresh Start.’
This programme is aimed at facilitating individuals, particularly young people, who have run afoul of the law, with the opportunity to get their lives back on track.
Speaking at a workshop on ‘Youth and Future Leadership: Sustaining Affinity to Jamaica for this Generation and Beyond,’ on the closing day of the Third Biennial Jamaican Diaspora Conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston on Tuesday (June 17), Ms. Grange noted that there were several agencies through which programmes to empower young people, such as Fresh Start, were being undertaken.
These include: the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD), and the National Youth Service (NYS), the National Secondary Students Council (NSSC), the National Youth Council (NYC), and the Jamaica Youth Ambassadors Programmes (JAYAP).
The Minister said the work of the NCYD and NYS demonstrated Jamaica’s acknowledgement that young people needed space and opportunities to develop their physical, mental and psychological capacities. The NCYD, she advised, currently operates youth information centres in four parishes, and is scheduled to have one operational in every parish within the next three years.
“These centres are youth-friendly spaces that allow young people to be comfortable, discussing and accessing information on issues concerning them, such as those relating to reproductive health, substance abuse, employment, career, and personal advancement,” she informed.
The centres are also equipped with free cyber cafes, which provide young people with access to technology, to which they would not otherwise be privy. Additionally, Ms. Grange said, they provide opportunities and avenues for young people to connect with their peers throughout the Diaspora.
The Minister said that other institutions such as youth clubs, girls and boys brigades, and cadets serve to strengthen youth involvement in a range of activities in practical ways. “These organizations help to build the leadership, advocacy, networking, and management skills of our young people, and ensure that they are involved in the decision-making process,” she noted.
Ms. Grange invited the participants to give consideration to facilitating and promoting informal networks through which innovative ideas could be facilitated locally and within the Diaspora; the strengthening of peer counselling programmes and development of counterpart programmes outside of Jamaica; expanding student exchange programmes; developing strong advocacy and negotiating skills among students; and establishing social enterprises among youth within the Diaspora.

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