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Story Highlights

  • Senior Director in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, Michele Small Bartley, has lauded the invaluable and often unrecognised contribution of youth workers to the empowerment of young persons in Jamaica.
  • Youth work involves the social and political empowerment of young people, creating opportunities for them to maximise their full potential.
  • The meeting was held as part of activities to mark International Youth Work Week 2015, which runs from November 2 to 8 It is being held under the theme: ‘Youth Workers Creating Paths to Peace’.

Senior Director in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, Michele Small Bartley, has lauded the invaluable and often unrecognised contribution of youth workers to the empowerment of young persons in Jamaica.

“The work that you do is important despite the fact that you might not be recognised by others, and people might not see it as a professional field just yet in Jamaica. Recognise that your contribution to developing the life of another person is significant and you have to take pride (in that),” she said.

Ms. Small Bartley, who is in charge of the Youth and Adolescents Policy Division, was speaking at a High Level Youth Development Stakeholders Meeting and Awards Ceremony held at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, on Wednesday (November 4).

Youth work involves the social and political empowerment of young people, creating opportunities for them to maximise their full potential.

Ms. Small Bartley said the efforts of youth workers  is in tandem with the Youth Ministry’s thrust to promote positive youth development, in recognition of the fact that this cohort will grow up to become leaders that ultimately determine the direction of the society.

“So, if we fail to recognise their value at this point in time, then we will fail to recognise that our country will fail too,” she emphasised.

Ms. Small Bartley pointed out that the Ministry is working on the National Youth Policy, which will ensure that “all the salient issues are addressed and all the goals that need to be achieved to enable youth development are actually implemented in that policy.”

Director, Jamaica Professional Youth Workers Association (JPYWA), Tanya Merrick-Powell, pointed out that several steps have been taken to increase the recognition of youth work as a professional practice in Jamaica.

She noted that a code of ethics was established in 2008, and there are competency standards up to a masters level for youth work regionally.

She informed that the JPYWA provides basic youth work training, as well as promotes knowledge of the legislation and policy framework that exists for youth development.

For her part, Child Protection Specialist at United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Jamaica, Janet Cupidon-Quallo, commended the JPYWA for its efforts to promote exceptional youth work in Jamaica.

“I want to commend you for the emphasis that you keep putting on professionalism, because yes, we need to have the youth workers out there – committed, motivated, but they also need to deliver quality work,” she said.

Since its establishment in 2006, the JPYWA has been working to raise awareness of youth development as a professional practice, advocating on youth issues, developing and providing basic training for youth workers and providing technical support to Government and non-governmental rganisations (NGOs).

The meeting was held as part of activities to mark International Youth Work Week 2015, which runs from November 2 to 8 It is being held under the theme: ‘Youth Workers Creating Paths to Peace’.

The observance acknowledges the exceptional contribution of youth workers in peace-building and social cohesion.

The local celebrations aim to increase Government partnerships in youth development work as a valuable practice. Activities are being held under the auspices of the JPYWA.

During the meeting and awards ceremony, several outstanding youth workers were recognised for their contribution to the development of youth in the country.