Hanover, Westmoreland residents benefit from back-to-school fair
APPROXIMATELY 200 residents of communities in Hanover and Westmoreland benefited from a recent back-to-school empowerment and wellness fair.
Held at the Upper Rock Spring Primary and Infant School in Hanover, the fair saw youth from Rock Spring and neighbouring communities, including Green Island, Grange Hill, Jerusalem Mountain, Savanna-la-Mar and Little London receiving back-to-school supplies.
The supplies included stationery, shoes, khakis and book vouchers courtesy of the Sandals Foundation and Sandals Resorts; as well as Lucea business partners such as Sinclair's Bargain Centre, CAP Sales and Services, UG's Better Buy, Tan-Tan Restaurant and the Hanover Cooperative Credit Union.
The fair was hosted by the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD) and the Social Development Commission (SDC) in association with the Sandals Foundation, Sandals Resorts, the Hanover Health Department, Jamaica Fire Brigade, Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning, National Youth Service (NYS) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
The Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security's PATH Department were also on hand at the event to help adults and youth access continued education programmes and PATH services. Through the Hanover Health Department, 52 people received HIV tests, and 46 underwent blood pressure checks facilitated by the Jamaica Fire Brigade --Lucea Division.
"We targeted Rock Spring as it connects several Westmoreland and Hanover communities and because of what we identified as a deficiency in access to infrastructural and educational opportunities that our nation's youth need to holistically develop," stated Donmarie Latouche, Youth Empowerment Officer, NYCD Hanover. "As youth workers and community officers, it is important to recognise that these communities still help to advance the parish on different platforms. As such, our empowerment and development framework models must be inclusive of their active participation while we seek to expose residents to the social services that are available to them," she said.
Latouche added that several of the participants in the empowerment and wellness fair were also exposed to background information on the soon-to-come Youth Information Centre that is currently being built in Hanover to provide development programmes and tools for young people in the parish.
Principal of the host school, Clayton Smith, noted that the intervention was a first in the community and was well needed.
"We hardly get a lot of organisations coming in to try to uplift our residents because it is easier to access urban areas. I was very happy to see that the fair impacted all age groups — children, youth, adults and the elderly and I'm very pleased about the relationship that we have started to build with all the entities involved."
Sandals Foundation representative and regional public relations manager for the Sandals, Beaches and Grand Pineapple resorts in Negril, Kendra Johnson, said, "We partnered with the NCYD for a youth empowerment expo a few months ago and the response
from participants was overwhelming."
"It showed that people are looking at new opportunities for growth. We believe that programmes like these certainly give us a wonderful avenue to help provide the social support that will subsequently take our communities where we want them to go in terms of national development," Johnson added.