JIS News

The Youth Development Programme has been allocated a sum of $38.6 million in the 2008/09 Estimates of Expenditure, now before the House of Representatives.
Of the sum, $28 million will go towards the Operation Phoenix Programme, to complete refurbishing works at Youth Information Centres across the island. This will include the furnishing of the Information Centre in Montego Bay, St. James and the refurbishing and equipping of centres located in St. Ann, St. Elizabeth and St. Thomas.
The Possibility Programme will also benefit from $10.6 million of the total. The programme is a multi-agency project, which was implemented in 2001 and aims to provide the necessary resources and support for street children to better improve their life chances.
The objectives of the programme are to develop a co-ordinated and pro-active approach to the social problem of street children; remove children and youth who wipe windscreens at intersections and have them enrolled in a project of skills training; and to assist in the reintegration of children and youth with their families and/or schools, where possible and encourage the participation of stakeholders.
One of the components of the project is the St. Andrew Care Centre, which serves as an intake, assessment and referral centre. Up to January 2008, the centre had admitted 401 boys to the programme. An average of 20 young men visit the centre daily, nine of whom participate in daily activities.
Other initiatives of the Care Centre are a Leadership Strengthening and Capacity Building project funded by the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica; a Street Educator programme; and a Mentorship programme, in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Kingston.
Another component of the project is the Skills/Employment Centre. Up to January of this year, 23 young men were registered at the centre, 19 of whom are active clients. All active clients engage in computer training at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) twice weekly. Five young men graduated in December 2007, four of whom will be pursuing a Basic Automotive Refinishing course at the Sherwin Williams Training School.
Re-socialization Camps, which are also part of the Possibility Programme, have been able to boost the self esteem of participants and improve their general conduct. At the fifth re-socialization camp, which was held from September 24 to October 5 last year, participants were exposed to topics, such as money management, job readiness, family life, human sexuality, healthy lifestyles and relationship building.
As part of the programme, a hostel was recently established, which accommodates 32 boys between the age of 13 and 18 years. Accommodation will be provided for young men who have no suitable place to live or have had to run away because of difficult circumstances in their homes or in the community. Additionally, the hostel will provide services in counselling, anger management, recreation, and spiritual and emotional development.
The Government is also negotiating a loan with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for the development of youth programmes in the Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Education.
This loan is expected to be signed in November/December of this year and implementation is slated to commence in the last quarter of the financial year.
The allocation is to be used to commence the pre-contract activities for the refurbishing of Youth Development Centres.

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