Mon | Nov 20, 2017

Youth club revival key to countering gang lure, says Green

Published:Saturday | November 4, 2017 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
Floyd Green (left), state minister for education, youth and information, interacts with members of the security forces on duty in the zone of special operations in Denham Town, west Kingston.
Floyd Green (left) state minister for education, youth and information, gets back to basics with four-year-old Omario Hemans during a visit to Class 2 at the Regent Street Early Childhood Development Centre in Denham Town, west Kingston, on Thursday.
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Floyd Green, state minister for education, youth and information, is appealing to the private sector for assistance in revitalising the national youth club network, which he believes can empower young people to resist the lure of gang culture and make more positive lifestyle choices.

"Young people want a sense of association. Young people want a sense of belonging, sense of ownership, and they get that through coming together in units. Now, if they are not coming together in units to form a youth club, they will often be coming together in units to form a gang," the state minister told Thursday's launch of the Volunteer Project Competition at the Regent Street Early Childhood Development Centre in Denham Town, west Kingston.

"While we criticise and chastise the gangs, we often don't look at what the gangs provide for the young people - that sense of belonging. When somebody says, 'Come and sit at my feet, I will give you space to be a man or to be a woman', it is appealing. We have to take back that space by providing substance through our youth club movement. So join with us as we go back into communities and get our youth clubs back up and running."

Green, who is member of parliament for South West St Elizabeth, said that there is a plan to make the youth clubs sustainable by appointing liaison officers and training members to write business plans and project proposals, so that they can become niche entrepreneur groups consistent with the needs of their communities. He also spoke to the value of youth clubs in addressing socio-economic ills in inner-city communities by identifying and maximising largely untapped inherent positive human resources.

"We have a responsibility to find the needs in our community and to address them. So it is not by chance that we decided to launch our initiative right here in Denham Town, right here in an area that is now under the zones of special operations. We found it quite fitting to come here to launch this volunteer project because we recognise that solving crime is not about the Ministry of National Security," he told the gathering"

... Tackling social issues critical to solving crime

Solving crime must begin with addressing in a tangible and sustainable way, the social issues that plague communities, Floyd Green, state minister for education, youth and information, told the audience at Thursday's launch of the Volunteer Project Competition at the Regent Street Early Childhood Development Centre in Denham Town, west Kingston.

"That is what the zone of special operation is about. It's about taking a multisectoral approach to ensuring that we get to the root causes of crime and maladaptive behaviour. And what better way than starting at the very beginning by ensuring that early childhood institutions, the basics schools in our communities, are producing children at a high quality," he said.

"This is our security initiative. This is what young people are going to do in relation to dealing with the issue of peace. So when we say substance ova hype, we're saying to young people, don't just invest in short-term gain. Look at longer-term solutions. We're saying to young people, too many of our youth are being branded as perpetrators of crime and unfortunately, too many of our youth are victims of crime because they are not pursuing substance. They are out there pursuing the hype."

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com