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‘Man Up Jamaica’

Organisers believe initiative to groom young men will positively impact society

Friday, February 17, 2017

An intervention called "Man Up Jamaica — A Call to Healthy, Responsible Manhood" — is being described as a movement that is poised to change the landscape of the Jamaican society.

Regional Technical Director of the Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA), Dr Michael Coombs, who is the pioneer of the initiative, noted in a press release from the health authority that "Man Up Jamaica" was conceptualised in 2015 as a component of a wider initiative: "Good Health Begins at Home".

"[It was] developed from evidence showing that male-related issues are linked to crime and violence, including domestic and gender-based violence, substance abuse, sexual promiscuity, and other issues which are having devastating effects on the social fabric of the country," Dr Coombs is quoted as saying.

On February 10, some 300 young men between the ages of 12 to 25 from high schools and colleges across central Jamaica and Kingston, including schools in the inner-city, converged at the Kendal Camp and Conference Centre in Manchester, for a retreat. The release stated that the event addressed key male-related issues, including the importance of fatherhood, families, marriage, self-development, and treating women with love, respect and non-violence.

An important strategic activity employed at the retreat, the release said, was small group discussions on the key issues conducted by male facilitators or mentors led by Professor Brendan Bain, coordinator of "Man Up Jamaica".

The regional technical director, who is also the founder and chair of the National Association for the Family (NAF), said the intervention is a partnership between the SRHA, the NAF, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, the South East Regional Health Authority, the church, and other stakeholders.

He said that going forward, "Man Up Jamaica" will be introduced into schools, colleges and universities through clubs and to faith-based organisations and community-based youth clubs. The release stated that there will also be ongoing retreats, workshops and camps targeting males.

Dr Coombs expressed hope that the initiative will receive funding support from corporate Jamaica.

Noting that Jamaica’s future is not only dependent on its leaders but more importantly on its males discovering their true identity and purpose, Dr Coombs encouraged the young men to share what they learnt with their peers and commit to becoming a new generation of men who will have a postive impact on society.