- Residents of Parade Gardens, in downtown Kingston, are optimistic about the possibilities of opportunities that their new $39 million community centre can provide for the community.
- The centre’s construction was spearheaded by Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), with support from the European Union (EU) under its Poverty Reduction Programme (PRP).
- Secretary of the Parade Gardens Community Development Committee, Melissa Thompson, says the facility has areas that can accommodate skills training, among other activities.
Residents of Parade Gardens, in downtown Kingston, are optimistic about the possibilities of opportunities that their new $39 million community centre can provide for the community.
The centre’s construction was spearheaded by Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), with support from the European Union (EU) under its Poverty Reduction Programme (PRP).
Secretary of the Parade Gardens Community Development Committee, Melissa Thompson, says the facility has areas that can accommodate skills training, among other activities.
“The centre boasts a computer laboratory, designated classroom area, meeting room, kitchen, and sanitary facilities. Addition of bathrooms, in the amount of $2 million, is to be supported by the Citizens Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), which has (also) provided furniture costing $800,000. Plans are on to provide additional equipment for the centre, in addition to the implementation of a few security features,” she informs.
Another community member, Louise Mussington, wants residents and other interests and stakeholders to collaborate in ensuring that “we work to embrace positive changes that promote growth and development.”
In expressing gratitude for the EU’s and JSIF’s inputs, she points out that their generosity “will make a real difference.”
“This centre will certainly facilitate improvement of the lives of our young people, preparing them to become productive citizens,” she adds.
Speaking during the centre’s recent dedication, community member and Councillor for the Rae Town Division of the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC), Ann Marie Morrison, recounts efforts by various residents, and organizations such as the Gold Street Consultative Committee, and Peace Management Initiative (PMI), to establish a “monument” representative of community development and transformation in Parade Gardens, pointing out that the community centre is the end result of that undertaking.
“Now that we have this building, the plan going forward is to make it a sustainable project. We have to make sure that they (EU and JSIF) see that the money and the time are not in vain. We have to make use of it,” she urged.
Member of Parliament for Central Kingston, where Parade gardens is located, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, who is also the Education Minister, indicates that endorsed and supported the residents’ vision for the community, by assisting them to purchase the land on which the facility has been built, through allocations from his constituency funds.
Rev. Thwaites points out that the next undertaking slated for the centre is the provision of a multi-purpose court for sporting activities. In addition, he says the introduction of adult education, and income generation activities are also being explored.
The Minister advises that the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL), and HEART/NTA will be brought in to “boost adult education and skills training, for many in this community who never had a chance to get a high school diploma.”
He further informs that that a skills training initiative is also being explored for the adjacent Laws Street community.
“There is a new plan for the Laws Street Trade Training Centre. Combined with that, there will be service and skills that will help people to qualify for jobs; to have the credentials that they can create employment for themselves,” he states, adding that a programme for the elderly is also being explored for operation at the centre
Head of the EU Delegation in Jamaica, Ambassador Paola Amadei, welcomed the Parade Gardens community centre’s construction. Speaking at the dedication ceremony, she pointed out that it is among a number of projects and initiatives funded under the EU initiative at a cost of $6.21 billion, over the last 10 years.
For her part, JSIF’s Managing Director, Scarlette Gillings, stressed that all activities at the facility must aim to enrich the lives of Parade Gardens’ over 400 beneficiaries and 12 community organizations.
“What we have here is an integrated facility that will accommodate social activities for all; we can all feel justly proud of what has been collectively achieved. This new community centre is intended to positively affect the lives of men, women, and children,” she contended.
Meanwhile, Director of Crime Prevention and Community Safety, Ministry of National Security, Courtney Brown, said the centre represents a platform and a space where “together we can create a different future.”
“Its importance, as a building, will only be realized through the types of programmes for which it is used. I recommend that this centre be declared a space for all in the community; an area free from all forms of violence and threats of violence; an area where parents can feel contented to send their children, and all residents from all areas of the community can feel safe to come and participate in the programmes,” he encouraged the residents.