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Story Highlights

  • Jamaica Youth Ambassador to the United Nations General Assembly, Santana Morris, has embarked on a series of youth dialogues designed to engage and empower young people at the high school and collegiate levels in St. James.
  • The sessions, under the theme: ‘Preserving our youth through strategic intervention in creating safe spaces in the 21st Century,’ got underway on Monday (September 24) at the Mount Alvernia High School in Montego Bay.
  • A safe space refers to an environment where young people can come together and express their views without fear of victimization or harm.

Jamaica Youth Ambassador to the United Nations General Assembly, Santana Morris, has embarked on a series of youth dialogues designed to engage and empower young people at the high school and collegiate levels in St. James.

The sessions, under the theme: ‘Preserving our youth through strategic intervention in creating safe spaces in the 21st Century,’ got underway on Monday (September 24) at the Mount Alvernia High School in Montego Bay.

A safe space refers to an environment where young people can come together and express their views without fear of victimization or harm.

Miss Morris told JIS NEWS that the youth dialogues seek to engage and empower Jamaica’s youth at the high school and collegiate levels, providing an avenue for them to be educated about their rights, communicate the issues affecting them and demand accountability from their representatives.

She said the sessions are being used as a platform to put young people at the centre of the local and international policy-making agenda, and pledged to bring the issues highlighted by the students to the attention of the policymakers.

Monday’s session at Mount Alvernia saw students sharing their views on an array of issues, including poor parenting, absentee fathers, instant gratification, peer pressure and irresponsible usage of technology.

“I have been hearing the concerns of the young people and I will now write a report and advocate on their behalf as a measure to ensure that these matters are addressed,” Miss Morris said.

“We will also be doing follow-up initiatives so that information can be passed on, especially where the parents are concerned. Based on this youth dialogue, we have noticed that the young people, they are affected by poor parenting and also the absence of fathers from the household, and we realize that it affects both genders. So what we are going to do is host campaigns so that the information can get out there,” she outlined.

During her presentation to over 40 female students, Miss Morris emphasised the importance of youth advocacy and implored the participants to “seize opportunities to voice their concerns in a positive and effective manner.”

Head Girl at Mount Alvernia High, Roma Rajwani, welcomed the engagement, stating that it gave students the opportunity to speak up and contribute to conversations about issues affecting them.

“The presentation was amazing in the sense that they are reaching out to young people in schools in order to fully understand what we are going through and garner our views on how we see the world,” she told JIS News.

For her part, Student Council President, Me’ Shale Sherwood, said that the session was meaningful.

“What I also loved about today’s presentation was that she (youth ambassador) came and she listened to our concerns. I loved that the younger girls had so much to say,” she shared.

The Jamaica Youth Ambassador Programme was established to promote youth advocacy and facilitate the participation of young people in decision-making.

The responsibilities of the office include promoting and advocating actions on critical national and international issues and bringing national youth matters to the attention of policymakers and planners.

Other schools that will be engaged as part of the youth dialogues are: Montego Bay High, Cornwall College, Herbert Morrison Technical High, Harrison Memorial High, Spot Valley High, Sam Sharp Teachers’ College and Montego Bay Community College.