• JIS News

    The Possibility Programme, for vulnerable boys, may be expanded to Spanish Town and Montego Bay, says the director, Lolita Philips.
    “We expect to continue the mandate of improving the lives of vulnerable youths in the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA). However, I should also tell you that, currently, steps are being taken to extend the programme to other locations, where similar needs exist,” she told JIS News.
    To this end, steps have already been taken to examine the feasibility of expanding the programme to include Spanish Town and Montego Bay.
    The Possibility Programme operates under the Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports (MICYS), giving a second chance to vulnerable youths, especially those who wipe motor vehicle windscreens at stoplights in the KMA.
    A multifaceted programme, it utilizes facilities such as a care centre, a skills training and employment centre, annual re-socialization camps and a youth hostel.
    Mrs. Phillips encourages corporate sponsors to come on board, as the programme is not only valuable for giving vulnerable youths a second chance, but it also helps to break the cycle of generational poverty.
    “I would like to make an appeal to corporate citizens because, clearly, this is a programme that is focused on vulnerable children and youth. Of course, as we strive towards a society where poverty is reduced, it is very important that we try to work with these youngsters so that they will not end up in the cycle of generational poverty,” she pleads.
    “We have been around since 2001 and, I can tell you, we have had challenges, but we have a lot of young men who are now successful because of this programme,” she declares.
    The care centre acts as the intake facility. It is where youths are assessed for placement. If the individual is 6-15 years old, and is assessed as unable to read, the staff will decide if there is a need to get in touch with the family and find out why he has dropped out of school, and if there is a possibility of reintegration into the regular school system.
    Youths who would not be able to function effectively in the regular school system, would be encouraged to stay at the facility, because there is one-to-one remedial work that can be done.
    However, if the youth is over the age of 15 and requires remedial work, he is referred to the Skills Training and Employment Centre (the Centre), where he will get remedial classes and learn a hands-on skill. The combination of literacy and skills training is more suited to these individuals.
    “If you have 15 year olds who are unable to read and write, you can’t have them in the remedial classes all day, just in terms of their attention span. You need to be able to do other things with them, and that’s what the skills centre provides,” she says.
    Currently, the centre provides apprenticeship training in network with the business community.
    “Let’s say, for argument’s sake, a boy wants to learn carpentry, what we would do is, we make a connection with a business and the boy is interviewed and he starts his apprenticeship programme there,” she explains.
    “For the boys who have no where to live, they are assessed and, if they satisfy the requirements, they are housed in the hostel where they get to develop a number of skills,” she went on.
    “At the hostel, the boys have to be in a structured programme in order to be accepted,” she states.
    “There is a 4-H Club there and we are currently looking at some financial projects – chicken, ornamental fishing – to make sure that it is a holistic environment. So that they know that, once they are ready to leave, they will have learnt these other skills which can make them take care of themselves”, she points out.
    In addition, once per year the boys are taken on what the Director calls a re-socialization camp, which is done jointly with the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), a partner in the programme for a number of years.
    “It has been very successful. They go up to Newcastle, they are away from home, and that allows us a little more time to be able to deal with some of the issues that they have,” she emphasizes.
    The Possibility Programme started in 2001. Its administration is carried on by an independent board and a number of partner agencies, including the St. Andrew Parish Church, HEART Trust/NTA, Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), St. Patrick’s Foundation, the Kingston Restoration Company, the LEAP Centre and the Rotary Club of St. Andrew.