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Story Highlights

  • More than 1,200 students from 60 schools participated in the inaugural staging of the National Safe Schools’ Peace Day concert.
  • The event kicked off Government’s initiative to extend Peace Day beyond its March 4 observance, into a month of activities.
  • ‘Peace Month’ is being launched under the theme: “Champions of Peace” by the Ministry of National Security, under its Unite for Change initiative.

More than 1,200 students from 60 schools across the island converged at the Emancipation Park in St. Andrew on March 4, to participate in the inaugural staging of the National Safe Schools’ Peace Day concert.

The event kicked off Government’s initiative to extend Peace Day beyond its March 4 observance, into a month of activities.

‘Peace Month’ is being launched under the theme: “Champions of Peace” by the Ministry of National Security, under its Unite for Change initiative, which is a public education and behaviour change programme aimed at tackling the nation’s crime problem.

Speaking at the concert, Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, said a number of activities are being planned in schools across the island to mark the month.

“Today is just the tip of the iceberg…It’s just the start of Peace Month and we want to migrate this activity across the island…in a number of schools. We’ll be having activities and for the entire month of March, as Peace Month, we are really going to roll it out right across Jamaica in many different schools,” he said.

The Minister said the initiative is focused on the youth as this cohort is crucial to influencing the behaviour change needed to shift the culture of violence currently affecting the country.

“A lot of our Unite for Change initiatives are targeting youth, because if we can get it right, then we can stop worrying about Jamaica going to ‘pieces’ and we can start thinking about Jamaicans living in peace and that is what the Unite for Change initiative is all about, recognising that we have gone a long way down the wrong path and we’re going to bring it back now,” he said.

Mr. Bunting also mentioned the Unite for Change School Pledge that has been developed. The pledge, among other things, invites persons to communicate better, to solve problems peacefully, to ‘reason it out’ and not ‘fight it out’.

Participating students across the island will be asked to sign the pledge, committing to play their part in the prevention of violence.

During yesterday’s event, which began with a Peace March, the Minister invited two special artistes whom he described as ‘Unite for Change Champions’, Wayne Marshall and Agent Sasco, to perform.

The event also featured performances by several other popular artistes, the Donald Quarrie High School, the Young Men’s Christian Association, the United For Change Dance Troupe, and members of the JCF.

‘Men With a Message’, a group from volatile and vulnerable communities served by the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), also gave motivational talks. The men have turned their back on crime and are dedicated to showing others that they too can do so.

The concert was organised in collaboration with the Community Safety and Security Branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the CSJP, Peace and Love in Society (PALS), and Females United Club.