Waterhouse residents grateful for refurbished resource centre

Online reporter

Thursday, May 17, 2018

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AT least one Waterhouse resident believes the Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce Resource Centre, located in the Kingston community, is a “godsend”.

Patrick Taylor, who has lived in the community for more than 40 years, said on Tuesday that the centre has helped to educate at-risk youths and keep them off the streets and out of trouble.

He was speaking after the opening ceremony for the refurbished resource centre, which is located at the intersection of Penwood Crescent and Drumalie Avenue.

The facility was refurbished, through funding from Digicel Foundation, at a cost of $5.7 million. The work done at the location included the installation of drywall partitions, construction of additional bathrooms, painting, tiling, electrical work, and the extension of a multi-purpose basketball and netball court that will also serve as a play area for students of a neighbouring early childhood institution.

At least 400 young people in Waterhouse are expected benefit from the centre, which will also revamp its programmes in baking and pastry-making, information technology, and sewing.

The resource centre is also used as a homework and study centre for students.

“I have been associated with the centre for the last eight years and I have taken part in almost all the services that the centre offers, including computer training, cake baking, entrepreneurship courses, and the conflict resolution programme,” Taylor said.

He continued: “At the time when the programme was ongoing there was a lot of violence going on the community and the conflict resolution programme had helped to bring us together.”

Taylor told the Jamaica Observer that he was also able to start a small ornamental fish business from skills he learned at the centre. He said, too, that he hopes he will be able to open his own recording studio so he can also help talented young people in the community.

Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, in whose honour the centre was renamed by the church she attends — Penwood Church of Christ — which is adjacent to the facility, pointed out on Tuesday that, besides the registration fee, all the courses offered at the resource centre are free of cost.

She said the facility, which is operated by the Penwood Church of Christ, is maintained through donations from church members, and funds raised from cake sales and printing services offered at the centre.

“I think it's important that we have centres like these in every community because if some young people do not have facilities like this to occupy their time, then they will find the opportunities to do other unfavourable things,“ she said.

She also thanked Digicel Foundation for its donation to the centre and encouraged other corporate entities to follow suit and stick to their social responsibility.

In the meantime, second-year nursing student at The University of the West Indies (UWI) Kerry-Ann Miller, who frequents the resource centre, told the Observer that it was a source of help during her preparation for external examinations, which determined her matriculation to university.

“I mostly used the centre to complete assignments when I had no Internet at home. I was able to volunteer there and complete community service hours that I needed in order to graduate from high school and to meet scholarship requirements,” said Miller, adding that she currently helps other students with homework at the centre.

According to Miller, the centre was especially helpful to children who sat the Grade Sixth Achievement Test.

“These kids were able to come in and get their homework done, practise past papers and use the Internet because as simple as it may seem, not many parents can afford to provide that for their children,” she said.

Meanwhile, acting chief executive editor of Digicel Foundation Karlene Dawson said the charity was “delighted” to support Fraser-Pryce, who was already giving back to her former community in a positive way.

“We are confident that with Shelly-Ann's energy and spirit behind it, the centre will become a vital hub for young residents,” she said.

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