The Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA), today (Feb. 5) launched its 2009 Peace for Prosperity Campaign, which will target young people, especially students, in light of the growing incidence of violence in schools.
“They must be exposed, through peace building initiatives, to peaceful alternatives to violence,” said Chairman of the organisation, Dr. Elizabeth Ward, at the launch held today (Feb. 5) at the Hilton Kingston hotel.
The two-month campaign, which gets underway with a Peace Day Rally on March 3, will include a public education campaign; entertainer and media manager’s forum; a march for peace on March 8; a concert; and various community activities.
It is being observed under the theme: ‘Invest in our Children, Invest in Our Future,’ and involves collaboration with Peace and Love in Society (PALS) Jamaica, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Healthy Lifestyle Project of the Ministry of Health, the Peace Management Initiative (PMI), the Jamaica National Building Society Foundation, among others.
Dr. Ward noted that the goal of the VPA and its partners is “to ensure that through the various interventions, Jamaica’s youth will become integrally involved in peace building initiatives across the island, not just on Peace Day, but for the rest of their lives.”
Assistant Programmes Officer at VPA, Jaevion Nelson, said that there is hope of relief from the violence, which is plaguing the country.
Head of the National Transformation Programme Unit, Rev. Dr. Al Miller (second left); President of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, Milton Samuda (second right) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Jamaica Deputy Representative, Nada Marasovic (right), listen as singer, Marcus I, performs during the launch of the Peace for Prosperity Campaign, at the Hilton Hotel, in Kingston, on February 5. The initiative, which will end in April, include: a public education campaign, entertainer and media manager’s forum, a peace rally on Peace Day – March 3, a march for peace on March 8, a concert, and various community activities.
“We cannot live without some form of faith; we cannot live without some form of hope. We, who, year after year, devote our careers or volunteer our efforts to restoring our beloved country to sanity, have hope that one day, our dreams will be realised, because we have seen lives transformed, warring parties lay down their arms, and communities normal again,” he stated.
Mr. Nelson, who was speaking on behalf of Chairman of the VPA Steering Committee, Professor Barry Chevannes, commended the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) and all the other stakeholders that have worked tirelessly in initiating peace in troubled communities in Kingston and across the island.
Stating that violence prevention begins within the home, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Jamaica Deputy Representative, Nada Marasovic, said that parents have a critical role to play in addressing the problem. “It begins in the earliest interactions between a parent and a young child,” she stated.
She said that despite the magnitude of the problem, “we can and must find solutions.”
Launched in 2004, the VPA is a network of Government, non-governmental and community-based organisations, private, international and inter-governmental agencies working together to create a violence-free Jamaica.
The organisation maximises the impact of violence prevention initiatives by promoting the use of best practises through the collection, analysis and broad dissemination of available data; channelling resources into initiatives that exhibit best practises; and lobbying for systematic change at the policy level.