Youth Information Centre lifts hopes in Lucea
The town of Lucea, in Hanover, has joined the list of towns with Youth Information Centres (YIC) following last week's official opening of the newly relocated parish offices of the National Youth Service, at Watson Taylor Park.
The centre, which falls under the umbrella of the Ministry of Youth and Culture, is the 11th of its kind to be established in Jamaica. The construction of the new YIC and the remodelling of the building that now houses the NYS at the location cost a total of $71 million.
In his address at the opening ceremony, Dr David Stair, the custos rotulorum of Hanover, urged users of the park to protect the buildings. He implored the youngsters to make full use of the facilities, while recognising the sacrifices which the entire nation was making on their behalf.
"I also urge the relevant authorities to put in place the mechanisms to maintain this beautiful structure and I must say to my fellow Hanoverians, please protect it; look after it; preserve it; it belongs to all of us," said Stair.
"We realise that unbridled access to information, without the proper infrastructure to handle it, is the root of much of our problems in Jamaica today," continued Stair. "However, it is good to see our policymakers are balancing the scales at this time and giving quality information to our youth. It is really heart-warming."
Grasp every opportunity
Ian Hayles, the member of parliament for Western Hanover, the constituency in which the centre is located, encouraged the youngsters to grasp every opportunity to gain work experience, with or without good wages, as this could be used to build their rÈsumÈs while they seek better opportunities elsewhere.
"While I was living in the States, I worked at Burger King," said Hayles. " I worked at a parts store because I was getting working experience because I was using it as a stepping stone to get somewhere else. That's how you have to look at life.
"For far too long, we have taken things from this parish, never to give back. Let this centre represent everything that is good about youth, young people, culture, information technology and knowledge," continued Hayles. "Let it be all of that and, at the end of the day, let your integrity shine so bright that when you shall depart this parish and this earth, your name will end up being called like P.J. Patterson or Bustamante."
According to a Ministry of Youth and Culture policy statement, YICs in Jamaica have been developed over several years under a special youth empowerment and participation programme, dubbed 'Operation Phoenix', which was approved by the Government in 2002 and operated under the directorship of the National Centre for Youth Development.
In selecting locations for YIC set-up and operations, the ministry has been focusing on the acquisition and use of underutilised space in parish council buildings, on government or parish council-owned lands, and on properties leased to or held in trust by entities under formal agreements with the National Land Agency.
Through the YIC, youngsters in Hanover will now be able to, among a wide range of things, obtain information about opportunities available to them; browse the Internet; and become more involved in youth work.