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JIS News

Young people in Ewarton and adjoining communities in St. Catherine, recently benefited from a Youth Opportunity Exposition, where they were informed about the various opportunities that existed for employment, job creation and for advancing their education.
The event, held on the grounds of the Ewarton Sports Complex, was organized by the WINDALCO/Joint Community Council, which consists of representatives of the 13 districts surrounding the WINDALCO Alumina plant. It was targeted at unattached youth and students in their final year of high school.
Among the agencies represented were: the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA); Ministry of Health; Jamaica Red Cross; Jamaica 4-H Club; St. Catherine Co-operative Credit Union; the Heart Foundation; and the Portmore Youth Information Centre.
The exposition also gave parents and caregivers an opportunity to learn more about government-funded assistance programmes such as the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), which is being implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
President of the WINDALCO/Joint Community Council, Scorett Dobson, told JIS News that the exposition was organised out of concern about the high number of young people, who were without a job and were not attending school or other training institutions.
“In our communities, we have youth coming out of school, some trained and some not trained but they’re not making any move, so we wanted the agencies to come out, because the opportunities are there and they don’t know about it,” she said.
Executive member of the committee, Norma Riley pointed out that many of the youngsters in the communities operated small businesses, including farming ventures and sometimes needed capital injection, marketing opportunities and product planning for particular markets.
“That’s why we invited RADA and 4-H to the expo, to show them (young people) the various things they could grow and ways to market the produce or secure guaranteed markets,” she told JIS News.
“Young people were made to realise that, yes you can go back to school, yes you can do your own farming and animal rearing, yes you can run your own business and not just sit down and say nothing is happening,” she added.
The Social Development Commission (SDC) was one of the partners in the organization of the exposition and Community Development Officer for Ewarton, Allison Myers informed that as part of the process, the SDC moved to start community-based organizations (CBOs) and strengthen those that existed.
CBOs provide a medium for communities to channel their grievances, concerns or needs to the local development council, in this case, the Linstead Development Area Committee, which reports to the Parish Development Committee which in turn reports to the St. Catherine Parish Council.
She stated that, “if we assist these young people to identify what opportunities there are for them, then we can spark an interest in self-development thereby thwarting options for crime.”
Audley Vernon, a young 4-H clubbite, noted that the idea for an exposition, targeted at young people, was not only an excellent one, but also timely, and would have far-reaching effects. He said the event would allow young people to recognize ways in which they could “capitalize on the things around them to help themselves instead of always being dependent on other sources”.
Using farming as example, he said that, “when young people get involved in farming in a structured way, no matter if it’s on a small land holding or through leasing.they create an opportunity for a better job .and that makes them very independent individuals able to stand on their own feet”.
Mr. Vernon further encouraged more young people to join the 4-H Movement, “as they will be part of an organized body, so training can be more profitable to them”.
The Youth Opportunity Exposition is intended to become an annual event, and the WINDALCO/Joint Community Council plans to start from as early as February, to organize next year’s event, which they expect to be bigger and better.