KINGSTON — Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, says that the Government will make available US$1.3 million (approximately J$110 million) to fund youth entrepreneurship projects.
"You can look at this as your gift for Youth Month," the Minister told youth representatives at the official launch of Youth Month at the Courtleigh Hotel, New Kingston on Tuesday (November 1).
Miss Grange said that the funds will be provided from a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) grant.
"This means you can get your projects up and running. You don’t have to be employed by someone else. You can create your own business. We will give you the support you need to prepare your business plans," she stated.
Miss Grange noted that for Youth Month 2011, the Ministry will be recognising and celebrating the contribution and achievements of all Jamaican youths. She said that, more significantly, she will be seeking to engage young people in the decision making process, particularly as it concerns their well-being.
"We will also be engaging young people, particularly those at risk, and helping them to find themselves and realise their potential,” she stated.
Among the activities for Youth Month will be a Youth Gospel Explosion Concert, to be held on November 5 in Portland, the celebration of International Students’ Day to be commemorated in high schools on November 17 and a Youth Health and Sports Fair to be held in St. Elizabeth on November 26.
The activities, organised by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture through the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD), will be held this year under theme “Young and Creative, Bold and Innovative”.
There will also be a Youth Council Assembly in Manchester on November 27, a Voluntary Beach Cleaning exercise at Annotto Bay Beach, in Portland and a Youth Opportunities Fair in Portmore on the same day.
Miss Grange said the Ministry will also host a series of face-to-face meetings with youth representatives and Government Ministers, as part of efforts to include youth in the decision making process.
"I'm anticipating these sessions with our youth leaders, and I know they will be awesome,” she predicted.
She said the Ministry will host the Prime Minister’s Youth Awards for Excellence in January, noting that the event will be treated as part of the Jamaica 50th anniversary celebrations.
"It will be bigger and better and really elaborate. We will be making a very special effort to engage with our young people during the celebrations, so that they understand and appreciate the amazing country of which they are such an integral part,” she said
Miss Grange also stated that the Ministry was making a special effort to provide suitable and beneficial facilities, geared to the development of the youth population. The St. Thomas Youth Information Centre is expected to be completed by the end of November, while the St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland and Manchester centres have been completed and will be officially opened in the coming weeks.
Other highlights of the launch were the official unveiling of the NCYD/Youth Information Centre (YIC) website, www.youthjamaica.com. Through the website, young people will be able to access information pertaining to the world of work, as well as particulars about the myriad of programmes offered by the NCYD and the YICs across the island.
By Athaliah Reynolds, JIS Reporter