For many young men and women in the inner cities across the country, a second chance is all they need to make a difference in their lives and others.
Some 65 participants, including one female, who graduated recently from the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), have been given that second chance that could change their lives forever.
An elated Daniel Barnes, in his testimonial, is lost for words as he shares what the journey was like. He explains that he could not have done it without the guidance of the administrators.
“I could not have done it without the help of my teachers…I am so overwhelmed, I can now walk out in the world and feel positive. I want to thank the CSJP for organising this, so that the youths can have a second chance,” he tells JIS News.
The part time programme, initiated in September 2001, draws on young men from 15 inner-city communities in Kingston and St. Andrew and enrolls them in a comprehensive welding course, along with remedial courses in Mathematics and English, and classes that include conflict resolution, entrepreneurial skills and data operations.
Daniel reminisces about his past, describing it as a tumultuous journey, and encourages other youths to take charge of their future.
“I reach so far.somewhere I never thought I could get to. I want to say to the youths in the inner-city that this is serious. We must know ourselves. It looks weary at this moment, but you must do what you have to do to get there. Get up and get started,” he urges.
Daniel is clear about what he wants for himself, and has ideas of what the young men and women of Jamaica need.
“The country needs lots of father figure…because it is due to the lack of father figure, why a lot of violence happens in the inner city. The youths need a father figure around them and I feel proud of myself that I am stepping away from violence and now I am a crime free man,” Daniel asserts.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry National Security, Mayor Richard Reese (right), has words of encouragement for graduate, Daniel Barnes, at the recent Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) graduation ceremony. Administrator for the CSJP, Mrs. Sarah Newland-Martin, is at centre.
Another participant, Carlington Dinnal, is quite ecstatic about his achievement and during his testimony, shared how much the programme has done for him.
“The programme has done a good thing for me, because it took me off the streets and is helping me to understand life. If it wasn’t for the programme, I don’t know where I would be heading right now,” he tells JIS News.
Carlington is calling on other organisations to partner with the CSJP programme in creating more opportunities for youths.
“I am asking other organisations to partner with the CSJP, as it will help many more inner-city youths. I remember how my teachers here helped me to overcome a difficulty I once had. So, I am grateful because it felt good to know that I had someone to share my problems with,” he says, while encouraging youths to make use of every opportunity they have.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Major Richard Reese, in congratulating the graduates, challenged them to be agents of change in their communities.
“The Government stands committed to initiatives such as these as we strive to create a better standard of life. Use the tool of empowerment to enhance your standard of living; you have come this far through grit and determinations, so return to your communities as agents of change. These are tough times, but you must all use the skills passed on to you to help alleviate some of the conditions that you reside under,” he implored.
He also encouraged the graduates to take advantage of the technology in advertising their skills. “Graduates must play their part in their own development. This is the age of technology, so take advantage of it by using that medium to advertise your skills. Establish joint ventures and utilise the loan facilities that the Government has set up,” he urged.
Major Reese further called on parents to create an environment for positive growth, and challenged them to be role models for their children.
“Parents and mentors have a role to play, because many of the young people today lack guidance and it is incumbent on each of us that we must be positive role models for these young men. Let us lead by example. Be there for them in a loving and caring ways,” he pleads.
Some 40 graduates will be embarking on Level Two with the Operation Friendship Programme. Operation Friendship is a non-governmental organization, providing inner-city youths with skills training and remedial education in Mathematics and English. The remaining 25 graduates will continue receiving instructions in remedial Mathematics and English, as they seek to meet the entry requirement for Level Two.