'We Transform' expo showcases talent of children in juvenile facilities

Saturday, October 07, 2017

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HUNDREDS of children under the care and supervision of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) benefited from the 'We Transform' competition and expo held recently at the Girl Guides Headquarters in Kingston.

The inaugural event showcased the skills and creativity of the children, aged 12 to 17, in art and craft, agriculture, culinary arts, computer science and fashion design. They were judged for innovation, creativity and presentation.

It engaged more than 300 wards from the island's four juvenile institutions — South Camp and Metcalf Street in Kingston; Rio Cobre, St Catherine; and Hill Top, St Ann — and the probation offices.

The girls from the South Camp rehabilitation centre were adjudged overall winners, walking away with the 'Minister's Award'.

Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security Senator Pearnel Charles Jr, who delivered the keynote address, said the annual expo gives the children the opportunity “to participate in projects designed to strengthen their vocational and social skills to help in their rehabilitation and reintegration into society and future employment”.

He said it also seeks to provide an opportunity to celebrate their talent and hard work.

He noted that the initiative is about teaching the youth in State care and supervision how to work together for a goal, take pride in what they do, and demonstrate their commitment to a cause.

“It provides a platform for us to recognise and appreciate the talents of these youth and is also a way to reward exceptional work. It also fosters team spirit among the participants and a culture of bonding while enhancing the children's social-interaction skills.

“Remember, the purpose of the programme is to reduce the rate of recidivism among juvenile offenders, channel their energy into positive and productive avenues, and teaching values while creating well-adjusted members of society,” Charles pointed out.

He said We Transform, with its theme 'Save a Child - Change a Nation', “utilises learning by doing a technique that does not impose, but instead is based on the capacity of each child”.

He added: “This approach is meant to excite each juvenile about learning through things like culinary arts, textiles or woodwork and creating items of which they can be proud.

The Ministry of National Security and the DCS, he said, have worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the programme, and called for more private sector support of the initiative.

The We Transform programme, which was announced in June, has garnered support from the Organization of American States; United States Agency for International Development ; Culture, Health, Arts, Science and Education Fund; Operation Save Jamaica; Jamaica Public Service Foundation; Tastee Limited; Jamaica Money Market Brokers; Hawkeye; Creative Media; and Caribbean Industrial Systems, among others.

Jeffrey 'Agent Sasco' Campbell, Kaci Fennell-Shirley, Naomi Cowan and Jermaine Edwards have been named programme ambassadors.

— JIS

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