JIS News

RISE Life Management Services Limited is looking to expand its programmes to assist more at-risk youth and to extend its reach outside of the corporate area.

“Because our focus is the at-risk youth and their family members, we would like to provide an opportunity for more and more young people, who are not able to get jobs on their own or need assistance with their education,” says Executive Director of RISE Life, Sonita Abrahams.

She tells JIS News that a key aim is to expand the afterschool programme, which caters to children age eight to 14 years. “We need areas to be fixed-up so that we can accommodate more children,” she says.

Currently, some 250 children are involved in the programme, who receive assistance with their home work, are taught life skills, and those who are not performing at grade level, receive remedial assistance.

“We see the at-risk child at the centre of all we do and so our main objective is to provide as many services as possible so that that child will be fully prepared to make healthy life choices for themselves,” Mrs. Abrahams says.

“We want to get them off the street and into a safe environment where they can get the assistance that they need with their homework to pass their Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT),” she notes.

She adds that, “we also want to be able to bring in parents (in an environment where) where they can learn how to be better parents, how to nurture their children, how to sit with their children and do homework.”

Mrs. Abrahams says that overtime it is the aim of RISE Life to expand its reach beyond Kingston and into the rural areas.

RISE (Reaching Individuals through Skills and Education) Life is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation, which was established in 1990 as Addiction Alert, primarily to assist persons suffering from substance abuse addiction.

Over the years, the organisation expanded its programmes to include educational, vocational and health-related interventions for high-risk individuals in inner-city Kingston and in 1995, a decision was made to change the name to reflect the scope of the organisation’s work.

“We decided to change the name to RISE because under Addition Alert, people thought that all that we did was work with addiction disorders and this is not so,” Mrs. Abrahams says.

From its 57 East Street downtown Kingston location, the agency assist scores of young people, who are in danger of becoming involved in crime, violence, and drug abuse, and persons struggling with substance abuse.

It reaches young people in some of the most volatile inner-city communities such as Drewsland, Waterhouse, Tower Hill, Allman Town, Parade Gardens and Fletcher’s Land, providing them with the educational, social and life management skills that will help them to deal with potential social problems and develop healthy behaviour patterns, so that they can live fulfilling and productive lives.

Among the services offered, which are free of cost, are: the prevention and treatment of addictive disorders; violence, drug, and HIV/AIDS prevention programmes; remedial education and life skills training; parenting programmes; social and health-related services; and HEART/NTA accredited vocational skills training.

About 50 persons are currently benefitting from training in customer service at the centre.

As it relates to addictive disorder services, Mrs. Abrahams says that the centre provides assistance to persons, who need help overcoming gambling, or the abuse of drugs or alcohol. Counselling is provided through the telephone lifeline service that operates from 8:00 a.m. until midnight.

“That telephone number is 1-888-991-4146. Anyone having a gambling, drinking or drug problem can call in or a family member can call in,” she says. Persons are also referred to other institutions and programmes for further help.

According to Mrs. Abrahams, RISE Life’s focus ties in with the country’s national development plan Vision 2030.  

“We really are here to provide opportunities for those who otherwise may not get the opportunities to move ahead in life,” she says.

Last October, RISE Life Management Services Limited celebrated 20 years of service, honouring several directors and staff members, who have been stalwarts in the organisation.


By: Chris Patterson