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Male wards at the Metcalfe Street Secure Juvenile Remand Centre in Kingston, now have the opportunity to explore and develop their talent in music, following the opening of the Black Diamond Music Studio at the facility on Wednesday (December 15).

The studio was established through collaboration involving the Ministry of National Security, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) through the We Transform Youth Empowerment Programme, and the Digicel Foundation.

It is equipped with computers, mixing board, speakers, microphones, headphones, a recording booth, among other things.

The wards will be exposed to training in music production and engineering, which will enable them to tap into their creativity while gaining marketable skills.

Portfolio Minister, the Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, in welcoming the studio, said it provides another educational option for those wards, who are not interested in the traditional subject offerings.

He said studies show that young men, who drop out of school, often have a lack of interest in traditional subjects.

“And we [need] to take a message from that [which is] that music can be one of the greatest factors in not only maintaining unity in our country but in transforming the behaviours of those we consider as troublemakers in the most volatile communities,” he pointed out.

Minister without Portfolio, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda, in his remarks, noted that music rehabilitation programmes have proven to be helpful and beneficial to youths and adults in every facet of life, including those incarcerated.

“If we look at this as a starting point to trigger an interest in something other than criminality and dysfunctional behaviours, then the possibilities truly are endless.

“Many of these young people may not be able to sing or have the creativity to build a rhythm, but the very act of working on a mixing board or the computer may trigger other interests for them that opens a whole new world,” he said.

Meanwhile, reggae dancehall artiste Jeffrey ‘Agent Sasco’ Campbell, who worked with the wards to build the studio, said he will participate in monthly music sessions with the young men to help them develop their skills and give them added exposure to the trade.

Mr. Campbell, who is a We Transform Programme ambassador said that he has benefited from the “transformational value of music,” throughout his career.

He urged the young men to use the opportunity to change their lives in a positive way.

“As much as we celebrate and welcome creative freedom, I must say that we can all agree that nothing that emerges from the studio should in any way be promoting or endorsing or suggesting any kind of idea, activity, culture value, or whatever, that will land someone in a space like this,” he said.

We Transform is the Ministry’s flagship youth programme geared at providing children within the care and supervision of the DCS, with the requisite skillsets, character, and support to become productive, exemplary citizens.

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