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Government of Jamaica


Kingston Youth Leaders Poised to Take Community Sustainability Forward

Leaders Emerging in Kingston Communities
Seated from left to right: Executive Director, Morris Entrepreneurship Centre Mrs Hazel O’Connor; Community Facilitator, Social Development Commission, Ms Odeka Haughton; Learning and Development Officer (Acting), HEART NSTA Trust, Rokoya Johnson; Technical Specialist, Socio-Economic Development, CRP, PIOJ, Ms Charmaine Brimm; Research Officer, CRP, PIOJ Mrs Kimberley Wellington

March 29, 2022

Youth leadership continues to be important for the advancement of citizen security and safety in vulnerable communities. This emerged from a recently concluded programme in Kingston that was coordinated by the Planning institute of Jamaica Community Renewal Programme (PIOJ CRP).

Targeting youth between ages 17 and 29 from Tivoli Gardens and Trench Town, who had already demonstrated an interest in civic development, the two-year Inter-Agency Network Youth Development Programme equipped the young people for civic leadership.

Using the whole-of-government approach, partner agencies of the $15.0 million dollar programme were the PIOJ CRP; HEART NSTA Trust; Northern Caribbean University Morris Entrepreneurship Centre; Social Development Commission; Project Management Global Institute (PMGI); and the HOPE programme of the Office of the Prime Minister. A programme report will be prepared and shared within the IAN network so that it can be tailored for implementation in other selected communities.

Delivering the overview of the project and its success, Technical Specialist, Socio Economic Development with the PIOJ CRP, Charmaine Brimm, noted that the process had realistic expectations of a high attrition rate, and from the starting cohort of 30, only 12 completed full certification in community engagement and leadership; business administration; proposal writing; business model canvassing and project management. A total of 18 youth were certified at HEART Level 11 in Business Administration and 18 youth and CDC representatives were trained in components of Introduction to Project Management and will also be awarded HEART Level 11 certification in Development of Community Projects for Implementation, which is a qualification plan developed in partnership with NCTVET for the IANYDP. In addition, six trainees were placed in a six-month internship at the National Housing Trust and three were offered extended employment at the end.

The Trench Town youth participants undertook a micro project called the Trench Town Youth Empowerment Programme that addressed the issue of teenage pregnancy through educational training and psycho-social support. The micro project ran from April 2021 to January 2022 and included primary research, which informed the design of the programme. Challenges to the participants of the programme included a lack of access to digital devices, which was partly alleviated with a donation of 10 tablets by the GraceKennedy Foundation. No Internet access in community spaces and sporadic outbreaks of violence also disrupted the roll-out of the course. Some participants also moved away from the programme to address immediate needs such as earning an income or other revenue generation activities.

At the graduation event for the participants on March 8, 2022 in Kingston, Deputy Director General of the PIOJ, Barbara Scott, said in her remarks, “This programme, with its focus on youth development and capacity building of CDCs was such a timely and critical intervention in our efforts to prepare and motivate youth to become owners and leaders of their communities; and to strengthen the governance structure of the CDCs to effectively carry out their role in coordinating and advocating on behalf of its community members.”

Lennordo Green, who delivered the valedictory address said that he is looking forward with eager expectations to journey further with the community. “No project is perfect and having patience is a part of growing an organization and building project reputation. We have seen these challenges when running the Trench Town Youth Empowerment Programme for teenage persons. I was able to give back to my community and help with the development of younger personnel,” he said.

Participant Samika Prendergast said that after the training she was given the responsibility to operate the community’s social enterprise, which is a step towards sustainability for the Trench Town CDC. Prendergast said that this allowed her to see her community in a wholesome way and she is now a volunteer on the executive of the community’s youth council.

Representative of the Trench Town CDC who volunteered to supervise the course participants, Zann Locke, said that the interaction was as of much benefit to the organization as it was to the youth participants. She said, “We appreciated their willingness to learn and adapt, which is quite remarkable, and that make us extremely proud. In turn, we developed patience…We have seen the participants and the staff combine and work together assiduously. The participants learned how to be more confident and have emerged as leaders, more receptive and understanding of the needs of others.”
The Inter-Agency Network approach is an innovation of the Social Development Commission that promotes a whole of government approach to community development. The IAN identifies community priorities and appropriate responses to community needs. Remarks that were delivered to the graduands on behalf of the Executive Director of the Social Development Commission read, “The fact that the programme is focused on youth advancement and is in keeping with the thrust towards youth inclusion and increased participation is commendable and serves as a best practice based on its successful outcome.”
In his remarks, Vice President of Industries at the Northern Caribbean University, Mr Errol Malcolm, said, “The benefits of this programme cannot be overemphasized as within its composition lies the catalyst for sustainable growth and development, community transformation, poverty alleviation, and behavioural modification.”

The participants were mentored by the PMGI and in her remarks, the CEO, Sherrone Lobban, said that it was not easy journey for them, but they worked hard and gained academic knowledge and a new mindset to allow them to be more agile, efficient and productive.

HEART NSTA Trust Director (Acting) Region 1, Charlene Mohan, said that the institution proudly participated in the training and certification of the graduates in civic skills and business administration. She said that the IAN demonstrated dedication and support for young people and celebrated the commitment of the graduates to complete their learning. To the graduands she said, “Use the skills you have been taught as tools to create your own future your own alternative narrative, never be deterred by failure.”

Using stories from her own experience growing up in a vulnerable community in Kingston, Guest Speaker, Reverend Dr Sherone Smith Sanchez of Talawah Turf International—an educational services enterprise—urged the participants to “catch-a-fire”, in the context of seeking inspiration and make plans for their own lives. Her words would have resonated with the group, as Catch-A-Fire is a studio album that was released by Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Performer from the Trench Town CDC, Raynard Anderson, delivered the poem “Success Despite Odds”, which he wrote specially for the event. Excerpts urged the participants to stay self motivated:
“Thoughts are the cornerstone of every idea; when you cannot go any further, dream.
When you have been told you will amount to nothing, dream.
When you have proved yourself right, you will see the smiles that made you laugh,
the thoughts that gave you great ideas.
Never give up on yourself.”

Freelance consultant in social development, Damion Hylton, hosted the event.

Building A Community Takes Patience
Valedictorian of the Kingston Inter-agency Network Youth Development Programme, Lennordo Green