JIS News

To reduce the involvement of youth in illegal activities in the community of Effortville, Clarendon, 30 young persons and 15 caregivers within families are to benefit from employability and life skills training.

Training will also include learning rugby as a sports component, to teach the participants discipline, among other core values.

The initiative is known as the Youth Empowerment Through Sports and Life Skills (YESS) project and is spearheaded by the United Way of Jamaica.

It is being facilitated under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Positive Pathways initiative, by Democracy International.

The project’s launch was held at the Effortville Community Centre on June 20.

Participants will also benefit from the strengthening of their interpersonal skills, training for dealing with stressful social situations, and training by HEART/NSTA Trust in merchandising and bartending under the YESS project.

Those who complete their training successfully will also receive internship opportunities.

Speaking at the launch, His Worship the Mayor of May Pen, Councillor Winston Maragh, lauded the project as one that will help to curb illegal activities in the community.

“We know this community has a bad name, and I think this will be one way of reuniting this community and getting rid of the stigma. So, I thank all the players involved,” he said.

Councillor Joel Williams, who represented Member of Parliament for Clarendon Central, Hon. Lester “Mike” Henry, said the community “has gone off track, and this is an excellent opportunity that will put us back on the right path”.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief of Party at USAID Positive Pathways, Courtney Brown, said the initiative is part of a five-year commitment by the agency to help reduce violence in Jamaica.

“We want to equip communities such as Effortville with the knowledge and skills that build resilience to crime and violence. If we work together to create a better future for our youth, the process generally starts at home,” he said.

One participant in the project, Raheem Reid, said he remains optimistic about the opportunities being offered.

“I look forward to being a part of something positive and learning new skills that will help us become successful in life. We [the youth] look forward to learning to play rugby and to work together as one,” he said.

For her part, Chairwoman of the Board of Governors at United Way of Jamaica, Chorvelle Johnson Cunningham, encouraged more non-traditional methods, such as sports, to be used in reuniting troublesome communities.

“When we have athletics happening more, we hear less of crime and violence. It simply means we need to be doing more sports and having more people occupied,” she said.

United Way of Jamaica is a recipient of the USAID’s Positive Pathways initiative to fulfil its five-year commitment to build community and family resilience and reduce youth involvement in crime and violence.

Other partners include the Desnoes & Geddes Foundation and the Jamaica Rugby Football Union.

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