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Friendship Pen and Bamboo River PYCs get a welcomed 'charge up'

Sunday, October 22, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Members of the Friendship Pen and Bamboo River Police Youth Clubs in St Thomas are using grants provided under the Government's 'Charge UP' initiative to assist in fostering community development.

They are also engaged in restorative efforts aimed at further strengthening camaraderie among residents of both areas who were previously at loggerheads.

The clubs have each received $30,000, in addition to other resources, to carry out projects in their respective communities under the Charge UP initiative, which aims to resuscitate 55 youth clubs islandwide.

The Bamboo River club is advanced in assistance being extended to a basic school to obtain electricity, while two bus sheds will be built in Friendship Pen.

The organizations are also targetting the implementation of an entrepreneurial skills training programme for youth in both communities, beginning January 2018.

They will be assisted by several public and private sector entities and stakeholders that have committed their partnership in this endeavour.

A sports programme is also being planned that will see residents from both communities competing for various prizes, while a dinner and awards ceremony is being proposed to cap off the two-month long engagements.

President of the Friendship Pen club, O'Neal Dixon, says that both communities now recognize the importance of unity, as they embark on the journey to chart their development.
Public Relations Officer for the Bamboo River club, Talibah Thomas, indicates that “we have united to take away the negatives, and bring more positives to the two communities.”

Thomas, who is optimistic about the overall undertaking, says “that is why we are starting with the training, so that we can meet and exchange”, pointing out that the sessions will be held alternately in both communities.

She says the grants are serving as the springboard that is propelling the members to do other things for the communities, including heightening residents' awareness about the importance of communal involvement in the programmed engagements.

The Charge UP initiative is being implemented by the Youth and Adolescents Policy Division of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information. It aims to develop structures for promoting participation by young people, and provide support to community-based clubs under the supervision of 22 Youth Empowerment Officers.

It also aims to harness the talent and creativity of youth, while re-energizing youngsters and clubs in communities where interest may have waned over the years, as well as provide key interventions for crime prevention, build the young people's resilience and support community development.

State Minister, Floyd Green says that “young people, in general, want to associate…they want to network…they want to have avenues through which they can come together. If you don't provide productive avenues, they might associate with unwelcomed groups.”

He outlines that a youth club audit done recently shows that the movement is not as vibrant as it was in the past, with a number of them now dormant.

The state minister says that under the Work to Learn, Earn, Give and Save (LEGS) programme for young people, a Youth Development Curriculum is being finalized and a Youth Club Assistant Corp will be established to work in clusters and provide the kind of support that youngsters are yearning for.

“We have crafted a holistic plan to get the clubs back up, and running. The first aspect of the plan is to target 55 clubs, in keeping with our Jamaica 55 celebrations, and provide them with grants, to help them with capacity building,” Green says.

He also underscores that the ministry wants to reward youth clubs that are active, and invites them to submit their projects in video format to youthjamaica.com or through the Youth Information Centres islandwide.

Participating clubs will be able to tap into opportunities for financial support, training, mentorship and institutional strengthening.

With an over 70 per cent decline in the number of youth clubs in operation since 1998, and some 140,000 youth considered to be unattached, “Charge UP” is serving to enable their participation in productive engagements while discouraging adolescent delinquency.

It is also supports the development of positive youth identity, social capital, cognitive, emotional, employable and social skills, and the creation of a secure, cohesive and just society as envisioned by the National Development Plan.

Each club engaged with the project will be supported with a sustainable plan; participate in training programmes, including social enterprise development, through community seminars and online platforms, aimed at enhancing financial sustainability.

Along with the 22 Youth Empowerment Officers deployed islandwide, the ministry provides additional channels to facilitate and support youth participation.

These include: the National Secondary Students' Council, Jamaica Union of Tertiary Students, Jamaica Youth Ambassadors Programme, National Youth Parliament, and Youth Advisory Council of Jamaica.

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