Tue | Nov 20, 2018

Kick-start at the wheel - Martial artist plans inner-city driver training programme

Published:Sunday | December 13, 2015 | 12:00 AMAinsley Walters
A learner driver in traffic.
Jason McKay (left) in martial arts combat.
Jason McKay as part of a team of entrepreneurs recognised by the Gleaner Company for hiw work with McKay Security.
Jason McKay
The entrance to the motor vehicle examination depot on Spanish Town Road, St Andrew.

REINFORCING the Chinese proverb, 'Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime', businessman Jason McKay is tapping into every boy's dream of sitting around a steering wheel as his way to steer inner-city lads from a life of crime.

McKay is a renowned martial artist and crime fighter. He sponsors the McKay Security High School Martial Arts League, teaching boys self-control and discipline by practising tae kwon do.

The programme has been mainly concentrated in traditional high schools such as defending champions Calabar, Jamaica College, Wolmer's Boys, Cornwall College, St George's College, and Kingston College.

However, through his day job as a district constable in the Jamaica Constabulary Force, McKay has experienced first-hand how the lure of crime can appeal to youths attending inner-city schools. They might not be academically inclined or adept at a sport, but could excel if provided with a skill as simple as driving a vehicle.

"Young men gravitate towards motor vehicles, so arming a man with a licence is akin to teaching a man to fish," the Calabar old boy told Automotives. "Come early January, as soon as New Year celebrations are out of the way and school is back in session, McKay Security will launch its Logical Training Programme for inner-city schools."

He is familiar with the demographic he is targeting from his business. "McKay Security already employs many persons from the inner city, some of whom approach us for summer jobs for their children just to keep them off the streets. I can see the concern in their eyes, especially single mothers fearing the worst," he said.

Preparations are well advanced, as the 2015-2016 academic year Christmas term comes to a close and the Easter term, in which the programme will start, approaches. "We have already contacted some schools, which can't be named, because we can't take on everybody at once. What we are doing is a new programme, going into inner-city schools to ensure students graduate with a logical skill such as operating a vehicle, which will help them to obtain employment," McKay said.

"By the time they graduate, they would either qualify as forklift operators, tractor-trailer drivers, crane drivers or simply holders of driver's licences, depending on competency."

There is a common factor with the high-school martial arts programme. "Just as how I came up with the idea for the high-school martial arts league to instill discipline in schools, a programme from which the likes of Olympian Kenneth Edwards and Nicholas Dusard have emerged as world champions in various disciplines, I saw the need for something which would appeal to inner-city youths, something which would empower them for the rest of their lives," McKay added.

McKay said the programme would entail his company engaging the services of private organisations to train interested youngsters.

"We've already made contact with driving schools and they're excited, because they, too, want the publicity, especially with the Canadian market expressing the need for long-haul drivers. Locally, remember there is the transhipment hub to come, plus expansion at our wharves and so on," McKay said.

"The whole idea behind the programme is that if you have a skill you can gain employment, and it would be unlikely that you're sitting in a community doing nothing, making yourself a target of gangs which operate in every inner-city community you can think of," he said.