Increasing number of Jamaican young people volunteeringSaturday, August 08, 2015
BY NICOLE NATION Observer writer
WHEN we think of the spirit of young Jamaicans in general terms, we often think of their go-getting attitude, partying ways, selfish behaviours. But a powerful concept seems more and more to be taking root in their psyche: they are becoming go-givers.
While volunteerism is by no means new, it has been thought to be dead at times, or at least badly maimed. However, the actions of today's crop of young volunteers disproves the theory.
Relying heavily on social media to promote their causes, engage young people and raise funds, today's young people seem more eager to give back to community and country and are taking on a wide range of projects -- from reading and education to feeding and recidivism. Often, they are not rich, but are able to marshall resources to the benefit of their respective NGO.
They exhibit skills in project management and event management
This is social entrepreneurship at its best! Here is a snapshot of some of them.
Feeding of the 5,000 Outreach Foundation
Inspired by the biblical story of Jesus feeding the multitude with five loaves of bread and two fish, Jordan Bennett's mission was to feed 5,000 needy Jamaicans. Today, he has fed over 6,000. His resources were not as meagre as Jesus', however, as he received donations of barrels of food as well as contributions from corporate sponsors both in cash and kind. The son of Jamaican songwriter Mikey Bennett, Jordan has already copped several awards for his voluntary efforts, including the Prime Minister's Youth Award for Excellence in the category of Youth in Service in 2012 and again in 2013.
Feeding of the 5,000 Outreach Foundation was launched in 2012 when Bennett was 17.
Bloom Foundation for Education
This energetic group of passionate volunteers' focus is to improve the educational opportunities available to special needs students in Jamaica, especially those at the primary level. With Kimberly Issa Sherlock at its helm, the non-profit organisation has already donated the proceeds of fund-raising events to numerous organisations, including the Danny Williams School for the Deaf as well as the Jamaica Association for the Deaf. Bloom is definitely a force to be reckoned with when it comes to raising awareness about disability in Jamaica. There is no doubt that with its armada of members, donors, volunteers and well-wishers Bloom will continue to inspire compassion, empowerment and hope among Jamaicans with disabilities.
Do Good Jamaica
Do Good Jamaica, the brainchild of former Government senator Deika Morrison, is a philanthropic project in the form of an online searchable database of civil society groups grows. It also features a calendar to show opportunities for supporting events and volunteering for projects for budding serial volunteers eager to find opportunities to assist their fellow Jamaicans. Its flagship campaign is Crayons Count, which seeks to support early childhood education by increasing awareness of its importance, and providing recommended learning resources.
Rotary Club of Kingston's BACK2LIFE rehabilitation programme
The BACK2LIFE project is based at the Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre, Spanish Town, St Catherine. Its main aim is to equip the young male offenders at the centre with the necessary life skills to reintegrate them into society. The programme has already begun to reap some success with most of its participants rejecting their anti-social and destructive behaviours. Conceptualised by the Rotary Club of Kingston president Manley Nicholson and his team, the pilot programme was implemented focusing on mentorship, life skills development, and life coaching/planning.
Nicole Nation is a Senior Medical Student at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. She is Jamaica's First Female Queen's Young Leader.