Young leaders facilitating educational opportunities for youth
Education is a passion for many youth leaders. This week’s instalment of the Rethink Youth series focuses on the initiatives of several young people who are doing their part in enabling the younger generation to access educational opportunities islandwide.
YOUTH ADVISORY COUNCIL OF JAMAICA
The Youth Advisory Council of Jamaica (YACJ) aims to facilitate the continuous engagement of young people through youth development policies and programmes. Under this mandate, the YACJ held its inaugural virtual Youth Forum on Saturday, November 14 under the theme ‘The Future Unmasked: Resilience Talks for YOUth to Succeed’. Over 500 young people participated in this session, which was streamed across various social media platforms.
The forum included discussions with local and international development practitioners on topics such as: mental health, education, the digital divide and entrepreneurship. Moreover, the information obtained from these sessions will be used in crafting policy recommendations that will guide the development of Jamaica’s post-COVID-19 recovery plan.
Anabelle Jones, deputy chair of the YACJ, told The Sunday Gleaner that, “In planning this youth forum, we wanted to provide a unique platform where young persons could engage with key decision-makers. The council sought to empower and energise youth to be actively involved in building back stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic. We wanted young persons to realise the key role they play in Jamaica’s recovery as we all need to ReTHINK Youth.”
SHANE WILLIAMS AND THAJAY PALMER
St Andrew North Western and St Andrew West Central
Shane Williams and Thajay Palmer are young leaders who are enthusiastic about volunteerism. Thus, given the opportunity, they were eager to plan a beautification initiative at the Pembroke Hall Primary School. They painted the guidance counselling department at the institution, as they wanted to do a project that impacted the student population when they returned to school. With assistance from volunteers such as Ashauni Granville and Barrington Walsh, they successfully completed this initiative by October 24.
St Andrew East Central
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, youth parliamentarian Lashawn Mills saw an opportunity to support a basic school in her community. On August 17, she visited the Kinder Village Learning Centre where she executed a sanitisation and painting project. This entailed the cleaning and repainting of desks and chairs, the shredding of old papers and the removal of furniture from classrooms in order to observe social distancing.
With the scheduled reopening of schools, Lashawn highlighted the importance of ensuring that the necessary precautionary measures were in place when students returned. Therefore, with a beaming smile, she explained that she was happy to donate the chemical products from her business, Bricks Chemical Distributors.
SHEMAR MILLER AND JERMAINE COWIE
Shemar Miller and Jermaine Cowie are two inspiring young men who are proud to serve their community. On July 18, they distributed over 50 care packages to elderly residents throughout the Tivoli Gardens community. Additionally, they hosted an award ceremony on August 15 for students who did well in their Primary Exit Profile (PEP) examinations. At this ceremony, they awarded five students $5,000 bursaries, as they aimed to encourage children to aspire for excellence.
Through his charity organisation, Live Love Laugh Youth Foundation, Rajaé Lewis has been impacting communities across Clarendon. Some of these initiatives include distributing food packages to five families impacted by the recent rains and planning the Building Bridges Mentorship Programme with the Clarendon Parish Youth Council.
This programme was implemented to provide assistance to 17 youth who exhibited deviant behaviour in the Bottom Halse Hall community. Young people who had little access to online learning received weekly classes in mathematics, English language, reading as well as guidance counselling.
As part of Youth Month, his team hosted a class party for participants, as the programme came to a close. Going forward, Lewis’ organisation will be hosting an award ceremony for youth leaders who have donated their time and energy to assisting youth across the parish.