Steer Town builds community peace through youth engagement
Sandals Foundation has partnered with the Violence Prevention Alliance alongside Coca Cola LA and the Social Development Commission on a project geared at educating youth, parents, teachers, and community members on alternative positive pathways to build community peace and wellbeing and increase employment opportunities for youth in Steer Town.
Against the background of November being recognised as National Parenting Month, the group is commemorating a number of activities that have been activated under the theme Steer Town: Building Community Peace and Wellbeing through Positive Youth Engagement and Youth Economic Empowerment.
In coming months, partners and community stakeholders will come together for a series of community engagement activities including job readiness workshops, psychosocial development workshops, and remedial and vocational training for children and youth in Steer Town.
Executive Director of the Violence Prevention Alliance Dr Deanna Ashley said, “The priority of the VPA is to work within the framework of a public health approach that seeks to build resiliency in children and youth through interventions that strengthen and support efforts to promote positive behaviour and cultural changes in communities especially among children and youth.
“Our vision is a violence-free and safe Jamaica, and we work towards this by using a multi-sectoral approach to unite around this shared vision for Jamaica,” she continued.
The launch of the Peace Park at Steer Town Primary School on November 27 marks a significant step towards fostering harmony and understanding within the school community. This dedicated space for conflict resolution will not only enhance the learning environment but also actively involve parents and students in collaborative activities like tree planting and painting, symbolizing the growth and unity of the school community.
To engage and promote positive behaviour among the children of Steer Town, the Steer Town Youth Intervention project has implemented parent education training sessions and collaborated with schools in the area to organise life skills workshops and remedial literacy, incorporating sport and music-based activities for students at the primary school level.
The youth intervention project goes further to engage young adults in the community through employment readiness and employability training workshops, job fairs, and remedial and vocational training aimed at increasing economic empowerment and employment opportunities for the community members. Training in business and entrepreneurship will also be provided to community members, with the top five businesses receiving start-up grants. These combined efforts will impact a total of 40 community members per year between the ages of 18-29.
“While the project is focused on youth engagement and economic empowerment, it takes a community-based approach to reducing the occurrence of violence among high-risk children and youth,” said Karen Zacca, director of projects at Sandals Foundation.
“Involving parents in education opportunities helps to improve parenting skills, promoting non abusive approaches to discipline and providing a supportive home environment for their children. Re-establishing the Steer Town Primary and Junior High Parents’ Place supports a parent-friendly culture and reinforces parenting education by providing a dedicated space for group seminars, recreation, and parent-child collaboration,” said Zacca.
Sandals Foundation is committed to the growth and development of Caribbean communities with a number of projects tailored to the creation and strengthening of key infrastructure that support the psychosocial, economic and wellness needs of residents.