BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau firstname.lastname@example.org
MONTEGO BAY, St James — The long- awaited skills training centre to serve the volatile inner-city community of Glendevon and its environs is expected to open early next month, more than seven years after member of Parliament for North West St James, Dr Horace Chang, mooted the facility to empower at-risk youths.
" The project has been long in the making but it was formulated to capture those unattached youths, especially the hundreds of unemployed males, and those who have dropped out of schools," Chang explained.
The move to establish the facility, which will offer a structured programme by HEART Trust/NTA in the areas of welding, carpentry, auto mechanics, and technician training, is in keeping with social intervention initiatives being undertaken across the island aimed at reducing crime and violence.
Glendevdon, located roughly two miles from the town of Montego Bay with an estimated population of 7,500, is often described as a hotbed for crime and has up to last year featured prominently in the then high murder rate recorded in the parish.
"The biggest problem in Glendevon is the high crime rate. The community does not reflect positive growth in terms of social and economic standards, while the living standards of over 40 per cent of persons are sub-standard with many households lacking access to adequate opportunities in training, education and employment," according to a survey undertaken by the Social Development Commission (SDC) in the area about two years ago.
Chairman of the Montego Bay Development Committee Patrick Fletcher believes that the skills training centre which will accommodate about 180 individuals, will change the lives of hundreds of youths in the Glendevon community.
"We are really giving the youths a second chance to get them to be employable so the centre is going to have a significant impact on the community. It is long overdue and I am confident that on leaving the centre the youths will be able to engage positively in national development," Fletcher argued.
He said already "quite a lot of persons" have applied for admission to the facility, many of whom, he noted, are currently being interview.
Meanwhile, Michael Jones, a resident of Glendevon is urging young persons in the community to get involve in the skills training programme.
" All the youths them must come off the streets and get a skill because this (the centre) will uplift the community," he argued.
He noted that crime has been on the decline in the area over the last few months, especially since the advent of the community radio station Moore FM.
And Moore FM's CEO Patrick Williams said his station in collaboration with the Glendevon Community Development Committee (CDC), has embarked on a raft of sporting events and other social programmes in the area, in a bid to unite the residents.
"Moore FM's motto is :the station that drives strong community energy:, so we focus on getting problems affecting the community solved, such as crime and violence, lack of water, inadequate garbage collection......", said Williams.
He also lauded the stakeholders including the Ministry of National Security through the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and the Social Development Commission for establishing the facility.
Funding for the rehabilitation of the old Glendevon Market, which houses the centre, was provided by the Caribbean Development Bank, through JSIF.