Student delegates spearhead strategies for safer Jamaica
Approximately 300 students representing 16 schools from across the island gathered for the 12th staging of the Youth Consultative Conference held under the theme, ‘Creating a Culture of Peace Among Jamaica’s Youths’. The annual youth conference, held on October 26, 2023 at the AC Hotel in Kingston, was powered by Flow’s fibre-fast network through the Flow Foundation and provided its young delegates with a platform to voice their views on societal issues which impact them.
In recent times, there has been an alarming trend of reported crime and violence emerging in schools, at the heart of which are the nation’s youths. If allowed to go unchecked, this will negatively impact and limit their opportunities for growth and development. This was the rationale for the focus of the conference this year, which was organized under the umbrella of the ‘I Believe Initiative’, an arm of the Governor General’s Programme for Excellence (GGPE) which is based on the principle of “using what is right with Jamaica to fix what is wrong with Jamaica”.
In his keynote address during the opening session of the conference, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen reiterated his belief that our youths must be given the opportunity to contribute to the policies and strategies being developed for their welfare. He challenged the young delegates to change the status quo by becoming ambassadors for peace in their schools and communities.
“I believe it is critical for youth perspectives to be considered in the decision-making processes when it comes to interventions, policies, and activities that are designed for them. You cannot have meaningful change without the input of the key stakeholders,” declared Sir Allen.
Allen continued, “We are prepared to do our part. My team will ensure that the voices of young people resonate and have an enduring impact through the implementation of platforms and initiatives that are integrated into actionable plans. We will continue to collaborate with different entities in support of this mission. However, to our young people, you too must do your part. I commend and encourage you to keep up the good work as you continue to represent your peers, schools, and communities well.”
An important segment of the conference included facilitator-led youth consultations and discussions on topics ranging from ‘Culture vs Crime’ to ‘Avoiding Crime’s Pull’. The students were divided into groups and given specific areas for discussion. This paved the way for the recognition of those students who displayed leadership and critical thinking by providing solutions that promote peace in schools and can potentially reduce crime and violence. Four students were selected and earned prizes from the Flow Foundation.
Speaking to the Foundation’s support of the conference, Shelly-Ann O’Connor, Flow Foundation’s Operations & Projects Coordinator, stated, “We are committed to enabling the progress of all Jamaicans and our youths are an important stakeholder on this journey as they represent the future of our country. This is a huge responsibility, and one in which we must all play our part. So, we forge strategic partnerships with organizations whose goals are aligned with ours. The Office of the Governor General is a long-standing partner, and we are delighted to have supported this initiative.”
O’Connor further stated, “I co-facilitated the discussion on ‘Making Schools Cool and Safe’ and I was impressed with the insightful thoughts and opinions expressed by these young people as well as the solutions proposed. I believe that the level of maturity they displayed augurs well for our future leaders and I was happy I was given the opportunity to be a part of the discussion. I look forward to seeing them in leadership roles in years to come.”
The Flow Foundation is a proud sponsor of the GGPE, which has administered the ‘I Believe Initiative’ for the past five years. The GGPE forms part of the Governor-General’s Social Programme and is aligned with the Flow Foundation’s support of the empowerment of the nation’s youths through various initiatives and partnerships.