YUTE awards top male, female
IT was when Maurice Byfield saw his nine-year-old nephew Lemar Bailey lying in a casket some years ago, that he realised he needed to change his life.
According to Byfield, a fourth form dropout of St George's College, before his nephew died he was carefree, with little focus on acquiring a skill or an education. However, upon seeing his nephew dead from a car accident, he got a wake-up call which made him realise that he still had life and had opportunities to excel, which his nephew would never have.
"My nephew lost his chance at a future and a career. Given that I still have life, I decided to make use of it, so I went back to school in 2011 and now I'm a part of the YUTE (Youth Upliftment Through Employment) programme for the first time," the 27-year-old Kingston resident said.
Byfield was named the top male YUTE Build II Residential Camp participant during a ceremony at Oberlin Conference Centre in Lawrence Tavern on April 29.
He said he keeps a badge bearing his nephew's image in his possession each day, because it reminds him to excel academically and make up for lost time in the classroom.
And already, he said he has taken steps to lay the foundation for a good career.
"I used to work with KSAC at a towing agency. Then in 2011 I moved on from there to go to school in the evenings at Mount Nebo Evening College. I passed three Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects there," he said.
"Now, with the skills I have learnt at the camp, I think I'll be going into the construction industry."
He said being selected as the top male for the programme makes him feel more motivated.
"I'm very elated and overwhelmed to know that I was selected as the top male. I just put out good effort and got greatness from it," he smiled.
Like Byfield, Danette Lawrence, top female, said she has a young man who is the main reason she engaged in the programme.
"My son Jaydon Burke -- I want a better life for him. I want the best for him. That's why I am here," the 28-year-old said.
Lawrence, a Southside, Kingston resident, joined the YUTE entrepreneurship aspect of the programme in 2011, but her attempt at starting a skincare business failed for lack of funding, and she decided to try another aspect of the programme.
With six CSEC subjects and five CAPE subjects under her belt, she told Career & Education that being a businesswoman is still her hope.
"I've always wanted to own my own business and be my own boss. I think I work better on my own. I'd love to one day own several businesses," she said.
The YUTE programme was first launched on December 14, 2010 through an alliance of private and public sector organisations to find tangible solutions for unattached youths in inner-city communities in Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine.
YUTE hosted the Build II Residential Camp between April 22 and 29 for 89 registered campers.
The participants were taught construction technology skills such as tiling, block laying and steel bending. The students were also given remedial classes in mathematics and English language and were tested on the final day of the camp.