The RISE Life Management Services has, for the past 22 years, been changing the lives of Jamaicans for the better, through its skills and education programmes.
Formerly Addiction Alert, RISE Life (Reaching Individuals through Skills and Education) is a non-governmental organization, which seeks to improve the lives of at-risk youth and their families, by providing a variety of mediation and training programmes.
Guided by its slogan, RISE Life is currently spearheading interventions in eight communities across the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew, namely Fletcher’s Land, Majestic Gardens, Riverton City, Tower Hill, Waterhouse, Drews Land, Parade Gardens and Allman Town.
Executive Director of RISE, Mrs. Sonita Morin Abrahams, notes that “work is being done (with children) in vulnerable populations, beginning at an early age, so that we can prevent drug abuse, violence and all other kinds of unhealthy behaviours."
“Our methodology is very important,” Mrs. Abrahams tells JIS News, adding that the programmes offered at RISE utilise a holistic approach to ensure that the participants receive the requisite knowledge, skills and character required to carry out their roles and functions in society.
She informs that the organisation has undertaken and partnered in several projects, which include the OBRA-Alliance for Youth; Community Upliftment and Human Rights Awareness Project; TACKLE Child Labour Project; Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) – Violence Prevention; Community Safety, Economic Empowerment & Institutional Strengthening Project; Youth Recycling for Income Generation, among many others.
The institution, which has become a beacon of hope for many Jamaicans, offers activities that include the prevention and treatment of addictive disorders, the provision of health-related, vocational, educational, entrepreneurial and life management skills at all levels of the community.
Currently, a total of 300 children are enrolled in the organisation’s after school remedial education programme, where participants are prepared to sit the annual Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).
According to the Executive Director, children who participate in the programmes offered are trained to be very versatile. This is so, as attention is also placed on the growth and development of the participants’ communication, peer resistance, life management, job preparation skills and the performing arts.
Not only is RISE interested in the development of children in the targeted communities in Kingston and St. Andrew, but they are also working ardently among the youth and adult population to ensure continuity.
Mrs. Abrahams informs that the programmes offered are highly comprehensive and as such, a child can enroll at eight years old and remain in the programmes until he or she becomes an adult.
Approximately 250 young persons, she informs, are actually engaged in the youth leadership programmes that form part of the operations of the various community clubs.
In this component, they are trained to become youth development officers and are exposed to training in peer mediation, conflict resolution, violence prevention, HIV/STI prevention education, youth club administration and entrepreneurship.
"We (also) have an adult programme where we prepare adults for CXC in English and Math and we do parenting programmes,” Mrs. Abrahams adds, noting that some 100 parents are actively involved.
RISE also has a vibrant Employee Assistance Programme and is an avenue that employers of various public and privates entities can use to invest in the health and wellness of their employees, who are greatly affected by addictive disorders.
The programme offers varying degrees of counselling, treatment and rehabilitation. Individuals can get assistance by dialing 1-888-991-4146 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 12 midnight.
Mrs. Abrahams tells JIS News that past and present participants have expressed their appreciation and gratitude to the organisation for its contribution in molding the lives of many Jamaicans.
Graduand of the University of the West Indies, Jerome Cowan, says he is forever indebted to the organisation as it has allowed him to gain tremendous financial support to complete his education. He also explains that the training received at RISE has immensely enhanced his character and leadership abilities.
"Without a doubt, I can say that the programmes offered by RISE, coupled with the Facilitators’ attitude and motivation, have made me into the man I am today," Mr. Cowan says.
The Executive Director has extended appreciation to organisations that have made their contributions to the programmes over the years.
Mrs. Abrahams says the costs of the existing programmes are actually being absorbed by the Government of Jamaica, the Betting Gaming and Lotteries Commission, the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), the National Health Fund (NHF), CSJP, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), European Union (EU), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
"We are also making an appeal to the private sector and government agencies to come on board, and give us some financial support, so that we can continue and expand on these valuable programmes,” she says.
Located at 57 East Street in Downtown Kingston, RISE is committed to fulfilling its mandate of providing educational, vocational and health-related services for at-risk populations, including those suffering from addictive disorders.
By Toni-Ann Russell, JIS PRO