Sameer Younis Foundation graduates 62nd cohort
Thirty-eight young people from inner-city communities and 10 members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force constituted the 62nd cohort of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) Sameer Younis Foundation (SYF) Youth Leadership Programme.
The ceremony was held at the JCC's offices in downtown Kingston last Friday.
The 10-week programme conceived by former JCC President Sameer Younis, was established in 1991 to empower residents of inner-city communities via a classroom setting.
Programme courses include community leadership, conflict resolution, family life, inter-personal relationships, anger management and entrepreneurship.
Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck, in his charge to the graduates, stressed that healthy relations between police and citizens was a catalyst for a peaceful society.
He stated: "Unless the citizens of the country work with the police and vice versa, we're not going to develop the trust and confidence that is so important for Jamaica to have a peaceful society."
Valedictorian Constable Michael daCosta, who presented on behalf of the group, said: "This programme was designed to make good people better through enlightenment. An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it. My fellow graduates, let us be an example for all of society."
When asked by The Gleaner how the initiative has aided in the continuity of justice, Chuck said: "This is extremely important. It's a pity we don't have more of these programmes across the many communities. These are some of the programmes that really bring the community and citizens in the inner-city communities together."
He further added: "It absolutely has the support of the ministry, as a number of the graduates have become better persons, and I'm only hoping more of the graduates will let their lights shine in their communities."
BIRTH OF PROGRAMME
Younis told The Gleaner: "What started it (SYF Youth Leadership Programme) was the political war between Matthews Lane and Tivoli Gardens. Every time the war flared up, all
of commerce in downtown (Kingston) came to a standstill. I was then president of the Chamber of Commerce, and I realised that to serve my people and serve my country, I had to bring peace."
Asked about the most fulfilling aspect of the programme, Younis said: "It gives the people a new vision to better themselves and to go back into the community to impart new-found knowledge."
The programme, which has produced some 4,000 graduates, is funded through proceeds from the annual JCC-SYF grand charity ball.