Career & Education

Teaching the youth

UTech students carry out 17-year-old volunteer activity

Sunday, July 30, 2017



It was Dennis Waitley, an American motivational speaker, who once said that the greatest gifts you can give children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.

The Students' Union at the University of Technology, Jamaica has adopted this mentality and wraps up its 17th annual Teach The Youth (TTY) student outreach programme this weekend.

The programme seeks to inspire youth between the ages of six and 18 from communities such as Kintyre, Tavern, August Town, Highlight View and Sandy Park to be the change they wish to see in the world through academic intervention, motivational sessions, leadership development, and social events.

At the opening ceremony at the Technology Innovation Centre at the University of Technology, at the start of the month, organisers explained that the emphasis this year would be on sports, culture and social skills, conflict resolution, leadership.

“Though it takes place in a classroom setting, it is nothing like what they have done in school for the past academic year,” said Jerome Clarke, director of community service for the Students' Union and the overseer of the initiative. “The imparting of social skills such as conflict resolution, time management, and leadership will have a more lasting effect on these students rather than plain academics.”

Over 200 student volunteers from UTech, Ja, and the National Youth Service summer employment programme implemented Teach the Youth with the theme Sculpting Young Minds. The three-week programme ended on Friday, with plans for each member of the Students' Union Council to adopt a participant to mentor throughout the upcoming academic year.

“When we think about impact, we want the lives of people to change. Three weeks is an impossible time frame to build any lasting change on the character of these children, but one thing we want to achieve from the initiative is to have a mentorship programme. Each member of the council will coach that child throughout the academic year. They will give that child assistance, call on a weekly basis to find out what is happening, maintain contact with the parents to ensure everything is governed accordingly,” president of the Students' Union, Granville Knight remarked.

“What we hope to achieve is that these youth are guided, to assure that we create, over a few months, lasting changes with these youth. It takes a while to sculpt the young but I believe that we can do that this year,” he added.

Guest speaker for the launch, Michael Reid, operations manager at the National Commercial Bank, commended the leaders of the Students' Union for recognising the need of students in these communities and applauded them for being a catalyst for change. He invigorated the volunteers to: break down the lessons in palatable ways, continue to be agents of change, and improve the social skills of the students, among other things, so that the students can be enriched by the experience.

Danielle Fyne, a Teach The Youth participant for three years, spoke to the UTech students' work.

“They have fostered community unity by integrating the community members in the day-to-day preparation for the sports day that concludes the programme,” said Fyne.

Marcus Lattibeaudiere, who has been part of the programme for five years, said: “The TTY programme gave rise to monumental experiences through ever present guest speakers and one-on-one discussions with the teachers themselves that helped to shape me and mould me into the individual that I am today.”

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