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Rural Express: Youth skills expo unleashes talent

Published:Saturday | November 15, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Beaches Negril's executive sous chef, Ralston Grant (left), explains the art of fruit-carving to patrons of the Sandals and Beaches (Negril) booth during the NCYD's 2014 staging of the Hanover Youth Skills Expo and Art Fair held recently at the Lucea Transportation Centre.-ContrIbuted photos
Students and teachers from the Green Island High School put their artwork and culinary offerings on display during the NCYD's 2014 staging of the Hanover Youth Skills Expo and Art Fair held recently at the Lucea Transportation Centre.
Students and teachers of Rhodes Hall High in Orange Bay, Hanover, with their handiwork during the NCYD's 2014 staging of the Hanover Youth Skills Expo and Art Fair held recently at the Lucea Transportation Centre.

Negril, Westmoreland:The talentS and innovative skills of western Jamaica's youth were unleashed at the National Centre for Youth Development's (NCYD) 3rd staging of the Hanover Youth Skills Expo and Art Fair, held on Friday, November 7, 2014 at the Lucea Transportation Centre.

The event, which saw over 400 persons in attendance throughout the day, was held in partnership with Sandals Resorts (Negril) and several other entities, under the theme "Youth from the roots: Creating treasures from trash." Its aim was to promote social entrepreneurship and capacity building for youth engagement in Hanover, while providing a platform for fuelling new multi-sectorial partnerships and building of functional social capital.

Several educational and training institutions, as well as business-development entities, mounted displays and provided technical support to youth (15-24 years old) from high schools and training institutions, as well as individuals from communities and youth clubs across Hanover and neighbouring parishes. Students from Rusea's High, Green Island High, Rhodes Hall High, Hopewell High, Grange Hill High and Hanover Youth Skills Development Group were among those who displayed various art and metal pieces and designs, as well as culinary offerings.

The highlight of the event was the Innovative Challenge which saw the only two entrants, Green Island High and Rusea's High, competing to create marketable goods from what would normally be refuse or waste materials. In the end, it was Green Island High that walked away with the winning trophy, courtesy of Lucea-based CAP Sales & Services as well as two day passes, courtesy of Beaches Negril. Rusea's High also received two Beaches Negril day passes for commendable effort.

The Innovative Challenge

The Innovative Challenge was a new and exciting addition to this year's event. According to NCYD's Youth Empowerment Officer for Hanover, Donmarie Latouche, "We wanted to afford our youth the maximum opportunity of gaining new experiences while showcasing their talents and building their social network, and this expo as well as the Innovative Challenge allowed for that," she noted.

Some of the exhibitors included HEART Trust NTA (North-West TVET Institute - Kenilworth Campus) and the Hanover divisions of the Victim Support Services, National Youth Service, Child Development Agency, Jamaica Business Development Corporation, Social Development Commission, Ministry of Labour & Social Security and the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission. Team members from Sandals and Beaches Resorts (Negril) were also on hand showcasing various skills/careers in the hospitality industry, including bartending and mixology, housekeeping and towel art, table-setting and napkin folding and fruit carving. Young persons also had the opportunity to sign up for the resorts' six-week Hospitality Training Programme and learn about various career options available in the tourism sector.

The event also featured a health component as Jamaica Red Cross was present to conduct condom demonstrations and voluntary counselling and testing, recording over 60 HIV tests, while the Jamaica Fire Brigade conducted blood pressure checks. Ministry of Health (Hanover Health Department), Preservation Health Foods, Reach4health and DVine Living Essentials also made up the list of health and safety-related agencies that were present.

Orlando Kerr, a student from Hopewell High had only praises for the event. "It was absolutely stunning - it allowed us the platform to display our skills and talents, while meeting new people and learning about a range of opportunities," he said.

Last year's Hanover Youth Skills Expo & Art Fair Expo, held at Rusea's High School, directly involved and engaged more than 300 young people. And this year's event turned out to be even better with an exciting blend of skills, talent and youth engagement. The event also featured a lot of entertainment from up and coming young talents and guest artiste Nuchi, as well as a fashion show and various competitions.