JIS News

In the effort to continually improve relations among residents of the downtown community of Parade Gardens, including Rae Town, Tel Aviv and Southside, the Grace and Staff Development Foundation has launched a workshop series, ‘One Small Move’, at the Learning Institute located on Tower Street, downtown Kingston.
‘One Small Move’ is the brainchild of well known comedians, Owen ‘Blacka’ Ellis and Winston ‘Bello’ Bell. The pogramme will enter its pilot phase with three workshops, the first beginning today (October 26).
In an interview with JIS News, Mr. Ellis said it has not yet been determined when the pilot phase would end. He informed that the actual project would be implemented after information gained from the analysis and documentation of the pilot phase, has been refined. After this, it is hoped that the programme could be replicated in the communities of Greenwich Town and Barbican.
The workshops are inter-active and are designed to change the behaviour of adults to improve the capacity of the participants as parents and citizens to deal effectively with issues impacting on their socialization process, which might cause them to act in negative or positive ways.
The workshops also seek to renew harmony within the communities, which have been beset by violence for many years.
In his address at the launch on Thursday (Oct. 23), Minister of Information, Senator Burchell Whiteman, commended the efforts of Mr. Ellis, Mr. Bell, and the Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation. “We want to see how well this works.if as a result of all the collective wisdom, there is a measurable difference in the quality of the lives and the performance of the students, parents and adults who are going to be involved in this exercise,” he said.
The Minister pointed out that often times children succeeded, in spite of the presence of adults who might not be equipped to offer guidance, therefore, “if we can help ourselves (adults), to be better support to our children, then I believe there is a chance that they can do better than they are doing right now”.
He told the gathering that it was possible to accomplish whatever was hoped for. “We have beaten the world in many things and we will continue to do so.but if with all our successes, we are not able to demonstrate that in this country we have relations of respect between people and can live in peace and harmony, then those successes will neither be as great as they can be, nor will they be sustained,” the Minister said.
Grace and Staff Development Foundation, established in 1979, has aided considerably in alleviating the adverse social and economic conditions within the inner-city communities through various programmes, aimed at enabling persons to become self reliant, as well as providing employment and facilitating educational opportunities.
Mr. Ellis, in explaining the significance of the project team, noted that emphasis was on individuals working together to create change. “We’re saying that we can make major changes, if each person just makes his or her small move at the appropriate time,” he said.
He pointed out that the intention was not to bombard the community members with “foreign expertise and technical jargon”, but to get together persons who could provide answers. “We will take the knowledge that exists in the community and refine it, so that all of use can learn from it,” he added.
Mr. Ellis told JIS News that the programme would offer an opportunity for community members to speak freely and come up with solutions.
“We’re going to use a lot of traditional songs, stories and comedy. it’s not going to be a classroom setting and it’s not going to be intimidating. It is going to be open enough to allow people to relax and talk honestly and openly and to think frankly about what they are doing to make a difference,” he said.
In May 2003 community leaders for Parade Gardens formed among themselves the Central Kingston Task Team, aimed at creating unity among all leaders and corners. The team has met with marked success, as there has been a decline in the amount of incidents. Mr. Ellis told JIS News that the success of the Central Kingston Task Team could be attributed to the fact that the group had adopted a non-partisan approach to building peace and unity.
There is also the Parents of Inner City Kids programme (PICK), an established group functioning since 1983. It consists of over 200 parents ranging from 17 to 50 years from various communities, whose children have been receiving educational assistance through the Foundation. Members of PICK will assist in the workshops.
Chairman and CEO of Grace, Kennedy, Douglas Orane, who has been involved with the community through his father’s furniture making business and his own enterprise, said he was no stranger to the community.
Endorsing the project, Mr. Orane said its purpose was to build a sense of unity and peace, “a common hope and dream we all share”.
“What we at Grace are most committed to is building a bridge of human care and understanding,” he added.
Chairman of the Foundation, Michael Buckland, said Grace, Kennedy was committed to continuing aid and rescuing the younger generation from the path of crime and violence through programmes, which emphasize proper values and attitudes.
Supporting the project, Mr. Buckland said: “If we are successful in our endeavours, we will send the young people into the wider society as ambassadors of a transformed culture, one which respects age, values and education and embraces hard work, which will take us back to the more God centred lifestyle of our parents and grandparents. Such a transformation in attitude will certainly go towards reaping the rewards of a kinder and gentler society”.
He pointed out that the programme was also supported by the Steering Committee of the National Values and Attitudes Programme.
Mr. Bell and Mr. Ellis have worked on many youth and community development projects throughout Jamaica.
They are graduates of the Jamaica School of Drama.
Individually and together they have conducted training workshops for regional and international agencies, such as the Caribbean Child Development Centre, the United States Peace Corps, Canadian University Service Organization (CUSO), and the Organization of Rural Communities for Progress (ORAP) in Zimbabwe.

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