WATCH: Yard Empire puts the spotlight on at-risk boys
At risk boys were the focus of a special talent showcase and award show held by Yard Empire to mark International Men’s Week.
The showcase saw boys from Yard’s signature programme, aimed at engaging at risk-youth through the arts, treating the audience to a revue (consisting of a series of short sketches, songs, and dances) aimed at highlighting issues affecting boys and men.
Speaking at the event, Education Minister Fayval Williams underscored the importance of programmes like the one offered by Yard as the country seeks to address the issue of unattached youth.
“We have to give them a substitute, and programmes like this [one] come in handy,” said Williams as she made reference to the connection between unattached youth and anti-social behaviours.
“Across the education system we’ve been trying to get rid of this concept of unattached youth by ensuring all our young people in our school system have at least an additional two years of high school; where they can get skills training; it is called the sixth form pathways programme,” she added.
Similarly, Deputy Superintendent Eucal Francis highlighted the link between a breakdown in the home and the allure of gangs, emphasising the importance of mentorship programmes.
“As a police officer we have been doing a whole lot of mentoring of our children, and so of course it is not about kicking down doors. But the fact that we have seen where these children are suffering tremendously as a result of fatherlessness, and we have to step up to the plate and do whatever is necessary,” said Francis.
“We know that there is an intricate link with fatherlessness and wayward behaviour of our children and it is for that reason we want fathers to be fathers. Fathers who are able to instill that level of discipline that will cause characters to change – that would cause characters to be modified,” he added.
Sandra Messam, whose son is affiliated with the programme, was full of praise for the effort, confirming that the programme is a unique one which has been having a positive impact on young men in the Parade Gardens community.
Speaking about the event, Messam noted that the talent showcase was an opportunity to see the tangible results of the programme, noting that the performances were heartwarming and were indicative of what happens when potential is actualised.
“Today is a day of joy after much hard work and encouragement. I had to encourage him a lot. I had two sons in the programme but one dropped out, so it is really great to see one make it through, and see the performances,” she said.
“It is nice to see the boys in this way, now I have a better understanding of what they actually do because sometimes it just no connect but it is good to see them up there doing their thing,” she added.
The event also saw several outstanding men including Superintendent Beresford Williams and Deputy Superintendent Eucal Francis of the Kingston Central Police Division receiving special plaques of appreciation.
International Men’s Day is recognised annually on November 19, with the ministry of culture, gender and sports hosting week-long activities to commemorate the day.