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KINGSTON — The popular and powerful medium of sport is proving to be very valuable to the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), as the agency continues to promote Vision 2030 Jamaica, the country’s National Development Plan.

Through the 2011 National 20/20 Community Cricket Competition, organised by the Social Development Commission (SDC), the agency was successful in spreading the tenets of the plan throughout the length and breadth of Jamaica.

Vision 2030 Jamaica Communication Specialist, Carmen Miller, tells JIS News that the SDC has always been a key partner in the PIOJ’s efforts to increase knowledge and awareness of the plan.

Through workshops held in communities island-wide, key stakeholders have benefited from training to better understand the plan, as well as to impart the provisions of their fellow citizens.

“We have worked with community group leaders and SDC field officers, which has enabled them to go back into the communities and assist in getting the message of Vision 2030 Jamaica across to the other residents, thereby making a positive impact, in this regard,” she states.

Having seen the positive results yielded in this regard, both entities decided to explore other options, which could further advance the public education effort. The result of this was the decision to incorporate the recently concluded cricket competition, in the slate of educational activities.

“The SDC informed us that one of the first major activities they would be undertaking this year is the 20/20 cricket competition. Although it’s a national competition, it starts at the community level; and through it, the SDC reaches communities in every nook and cranny of Jamaica,” Ms. Miller outlines.

The SDC’s Acting Executive Director, Dwayne Vernon, tells JIS News that the decision to incorporate the competition was based on the agency’s  belief that cricket “is not just about the game”.

“It is about what it allows us to do, in terms of building communities, building Jamaica; and the platform that we use at the SDC is really to empower communities. One of the goals of Vision 2030 Jamaica is to see that Jamaicans realise their fullest potential; and a part of that is to ensure that they are empowered. So, with that, we decided that a partnership with the PIOJ would be of fundamental importance…and it has worked well,” he informs. 

Ms. Miller points out that the processes and methodologies used in imparting knowledge of Vision 2030 Jamaica through the competition, ensured that each of the 372 communities, which had teams participating in the tournament, staged under the theme: ‘20/20 for 2030: Batting for our Vision 2030 Jamaica’, benefitted from the activities undertaken.        

“So, each SDC Community Development Officer organised a forum, to share Vision 2030 Jamaica with various community stakeholders – schools, churches, community-based organisations (CBOs), sports clubs, etc. This helped to promote awareness and understanding of the plan,” she outlines.

Participants in the workshops and fora, which were staged over several weeks preceding the start of the competition in June, included a number of the players representing the cricket teams.

Upwards of 40 workshops and fora were held during the period, targeting 30,000 persons, who were introduced to the goals and outcomes of Vision 2030 Jamaica, and the empowerment opportunities. Additionally, members of the Vision 2030 Jamaica team were also present at several of the matches, promoting the plan among spectators.

Mr. Vernon says members of the cricket teams were engaged in discussions and other interactive activities on the concept.

“So, in the orientation sessions that we had, we not only talked about the game, but we talked about issues surrounding Vision 2030 Jamaica. We shared the four goals that are outlined (in the plan) regarding (persons attaining their) fullest potential; ensuring that we have a safe, just…society; ensuring, of course, that the economy is prosperous and…protecting our natural environment,” he tells JIS News.

Mr. Vernon says Vision 2030 Jamaica was also promoted at each of the weekly feature games through announcements made at the match venues, and through tournament advertisements and commercials. In addition, T-shirts, brochures and posters were distributed, mounted or given away as on the spot prizes during games.

Another interesting initiative was the selection of Vision 2030 Jamaica ambassadors to impart the message within their communities, and the composition of various creative artistic expressions, depicting the plan.

This year’s staging of the tournament, the fifth since its inception in 2006, saw Old Harbour of St. Catherine lifting the trophy, after defeating St. Ann’s Content Gardens in the final held on September 4 at the Alpart Sports Complex in Nain, St. Elizabeth.

In analysing the collaboration, Mr. Vernon says the feedback from the communities has been very positive.

“As a matter of fact, the dialogue was less about cricket, (and) more (about) what it is that we need to do to ensure that our communities are better positioned to contribute to the realisation of Vision 2030 Jamaica. To ensure that the positive vibes that we experienced this year can be transmitted and maintained …into next year, and beyond, so…it has been a great success,” he states.

He says that consequent on the success of this collaboration, the SDC will partner with the PIOJ next year, to ensure that the momentum and mission is sustained.

Ms. Miller adds that “the 20/20 cricket competition certainly provided the opportunity for hundreds of Jamaicans across the island…to learn more about Vision 2030 Jamaica. The experience, working with the SDC team and interacting with persons, both young and old, from all walks of life, was certainly fantastic”!

She says that the PIOJ is keen on collaborating with as many private and public sector agencies as is possible, to find interesting and creative ways of spreading the Vision 2030 Jamaica message.  “Any channel that will get the message to key target audiences, such as young people, across the island, especially those deemed unattached, in an interesting and entertaining way, that is part of our mission,” she states.

Director General of the PIOJ, Dr. Gladstone Hutchinson, also expressed his satisfaction, and commitment to working with the SDC in the years to come, on this venture and others.

Vision 2030 Jamaica seeks to position Jamaica to attain developed country status by the year 2030 and, in the process, make the nation “the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business”.

Since unveiling the plan in 2007, the PIOJ has partnered with several private and public sector entities and non-government organisations (NGOs) in an effort to advance its ethos among the citizenry and throughout the Diaspora.

 

By Douglas Mcintosh, JIS Reporter