PIOJ, JCDC collaborate to advance Vision 2030 with youth programme
THE Vision 2030 Jamaica public education campaign has been significantly boosted with the introduction of a Youth Ambassador Programme.
This initiative evolved from a partnership between the Vision 2030 Secretariat in the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), and the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), under a memorandum of understanding signed in 2012.
Under the arrangement, each newly-crowned Jamaica Festival Queen is appointed to serve as the Vision 2030 Jamaica youth ambassador for one year, coinciding with the 12-month duration of her reign.
The youth ambassador initiative will include the national queen in the Vision 2030 Jamaica Secretariat's efforts to put out information about the country's first long-term National Development Plan to diverse audiences, with particular focus on the youth population.
Activities include scheduled speaking engagements and presentations during which the ambassador outlines the aims, goals and objectives of the plan, intended to advance Jamaica to developed country status within the remaining 16 years and, in the process, position the island as the "...place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business".
Vision 2030 Jamaica communication specialist, Carmen Miller, told JIS News that two queens have been appointed so far. They are the inaugural ambassador, Kemeshia Kelly, for 2012/13, and outgoing 2013/14 appointee, Krystal Tomlinson.
Miller said the undertaking is one of several "strategic" moves the secretariat has embarked on, which are intended to spread the Vision 2030 Jamaica message in the simplest format which persons can readily and easily understand.
"We see the festival queen (doubling as) youth ambassador as someone who can transmit the message, especially to the youth population, in a manner that is understandable and that they can relate to. The secretariat supports the queens by providing them with material outlining details of the plan, while the JCDC organises and manages their engagements," she explained.
The engagements are ably supported by inputs from the remaining parish queens and contestants who serve as "informal" ambassadors, by also speaking about the plan to various persons, audiences, and organisations with whom they interact, across the parishes they represent.
"When the partnership first started, a team from the secretariat attended several parish events organised by the JCDC across the island, and we spoke to the contestants about the role they can play in the public education effort. We gave them information packages, so they could commence and continue the work at the parish level, whether or not they won the national or parish title. They were equipped, so that they could become ambassadors in their own right," Miller added.
By all accounts, the tenures of Tomlinson and Kelly were fulfilling and rewarding.
Tomlinson said that her speaking engagement at a teen transformation workshop, organised by Transformational TEENS in Spanish Town, St Catherine, earlier this year, was one of the highlights of her tenure.
Transformational TEENS is a non-profit organisation based in Spanish Town, which seeks to motivate and engage teenagers. The acronym TEENS summarises the organisation's mandate which is to transform, empower and enlighten natural stars.
Tomlinson said that she was able to "connect" with the youngsters, some of whom were no older than 12 years old.
She said that in conversing with the youngsters about the plan, they were able to eloquently articulate their personal goals and aspirations. What was interesting, she pointed out, was the contribution which each youngster said they believed their particular area of study and professional aspiration could play in advancing Jamaica's development.
"They were keen to express that. And I think that, over the long term, we want to have our young people understand that how they treat with the choices they make, how they treat with the environment, and how they treat with each other in the community, will form part of the overall collective effort at creating a better society...a better Jamaica," she added.
Tomlinson pointed out that in all engagements, particularly those involving youngsters, her audiences were receptive and exhibited some degree of knowledge and understanding about the plan.
"What (some of them) were not particularly clear on was what they need to do to bring the plan's provisions to fruition. So, it was important to break down the plan's details in a way that made them understand, in the simplest way possible, what it entails, and their role in the overall process," she said.
Tomlinson said that as the national festival queen and a media personality helped her significantly to interact with her various audiences.
"Having a familiar face and title helps to make persons more receptive of the information being imparted and comfortable with the person making the presentation; because, among other things, they understand that you are there to clarify and improve on whatever knowledge they have garnered," she said.
The former festival queen and ambassador said her activities prior to being crowned and the subsequent preparations, with the assistance of the Vision 2030 Secretariat, also helped her to effectively deliver during her presentations.
"I did have knowledge of some of the sector plans, because of work I do with persons with disabilities (as well as aspects) that focus on improving the natural environment, because of my own academic pursuits -- my master's programme which is focused on sustainable urbanisation. But I didn't have comprehensive knowledge of the plan. So, when I received the material from the PIOJ, I reviewed the content, and that helped me in terms of further enlightening my knowledge, and helping me to impart this knowledge to others," she said.
Tomlinson points out that in developing her post-graduate thesis, which focuses on disaster risk reduction and how it relates to persons with disabilities, "there are different areas that will allow me to continue (to advance and share knowledge of the plan with others)".
For her part, the first youth ambassador, Kemeshia Kelly, who served as JCDC coordinator for the 2014 festival queen competition, said she was "very excited" to be appointed.
She attributed prior knowledge about Vision 2030 Jamaica to her participation in consultations held by the PIOJ while she was a student at St Jago High School in Spanish Town, St Catherine.
"I was even at the launch of the plan, and continued to read about it, thereafter," she said, beaming with pride.
"I have bought into the plan, because I recognise the importance of us having a road map for getting Jamaica to developed country status. I saw my role as that of outlining how the plan is relevant to young people... (and) I have seen it fit to continue to talk to them about it. So, it was great for me and I hope that the partnership (between the PIOJ and JCDC) will continue," Kelly added.
Miller, meanwhile, said that based on the level and extent of work undertaken by both young women, as well as public feedback, and reports which both submitted during their tenures, the secretariat was "definitely satisfied" with their performance.
"Some of the persons who requested their presence to speak at engagements have given glowing reports. We know that there are great benefits in having the programme, and it is something that we are planning to continue," she said.
The programme is set to progress even further this year, with the pending appointment of newly crowned 2014/15 National Festival Queen Anjell Bryan as the new Vision 2030 Jamaica Youth Ambassador.