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Executive Director of the Kingston Restoration Company Limited (KRC), Morin Seymour has called for the creation of study centres in Portmore in addition to programmes, which would build self-esteem and instil discipline in young people.
“Young people in urban communities are up against the wall. They are up against the wall of crime, up against the wall of violence, up against the wall of drugs and they are up against the wall of gangs and without positive guidance from you, the citizens, they will grow far too soon to an uncertain future,” he stated.
Mr. Seymour, who is also chairman of the Peace and Love in Schools (PALS) programme, was addressing a town meeting held on Saturday (March 12) at the Lion’s Civic Centre in Edgewater, St. Catherine. The purpose of the meeting, organised by the Portmore municipality, was to highlight projects by the Council and to hear concerns and suggestions of citizens, so the Council could incorporate these into its programmes.
According to Mr. Seymour, study centres could be established at high schools or community colleges in the municipality, where young persons could go after school to be involved in positive activities.
“When you are working in Kingston, they come home and they are wandering around. You need to think about how in your planning, you can deal with that,” he added.
He offered to assist the Portmore municipality in creating educational and employment readiness programmes similar to those set up by the KRC for young persons in inner-city communities in Kingston. “If you need technical assistance from Kingston Restoration, I personally will come and give it to you,” he said.
He also urged the residents to support the work of the mayor and councillors to improve the society. “You have something that no one else in Jamaica has and that is, you have a new organisation. How you shape it, how you love it, how you make it into what you want it to be, is in your hands,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for South St. Catherine and State Minister for Finance and Planning, Fitz Jackson lamented the low turn out at the event, noting that one of the challenges faced by elected representatives and community leaders in Portmore, was the lack of support for town meetings.
“Where are all the people who filled the Portmore Heart Academy the other day to express a position about the toll?” he asked, noting that agenda items, such as the impounding of animals, property tax, Portmore development plan, street numbering, building approval, better neighbourhood programme, clean up campaign and Portmore Week 2005, were important matters, which needed the input of citizens.
“That is one of the challenges that we, as your representatives face. Because we sit with you week after week, month after month, year after year discussing these issues, exploring possibilities, weighing options, coming up with decisions based on options that we have and when we reach at action point, then we hear voices that we never heard before and people like myself and colleagues are condemned for not having consultations and condemned for imposing things upon people,” the Minister stated.
Minister Jackson told the gathering that he was aware that a number of meetings by citizens’ associations in his constituency have had to be cancelled because of a lack of support from community members and failure to express their interest on issues that impact on their lives and their communities. The Minister commended those in attendance and implored them to continue to show their interest in matters, which would affect their lives. “If you fail to do what you have been doing as bad as things may seem, it will only be worse and all of us will become victims of it,” he said.
Also attending the meeting were the Member of Parliament for South East St. Catherine, Dr. Paul Robertson; Mayor of Portmore George Lee; Barrington Soares, Chairman of the Portmore Citizens Advisory Council; and David Smith, Programme Specialist, Environment and Disaster Management, United Nations Development Programme.