Private sector urged to help with community development
The Government is hoping to get private-sector buy-in to offset the cost of providing a grant to the 55 young Jamaicans who will be this year's recipients of the Prime Minister's National Youth Awards for Excellence. This is in the newly created category which focuses on volunteerism and community development.
Dubbed the 'Jamaica 55 Special Award', the new category was added in recognition of the country's 55th anniversary of independence to be celebrated in August, as well as in recognition of the fact that volunteerism, more often than not, goes unrewarded.
Floyd Green, state minister with responsibility for youth in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, is hoping to change that position while sparking national interest in community development.
He did not state the level of the grant to be given, but said it was to assist with the development of a community project. This is where private-sector assistance is being sought.
"What we are trying to do is to engage some private-sector support because we believe that this (community service) can be truly transformational," Green told The Gleaner.
"We (the Government) believe that it is an excellent initiative because not only are you building a cadre of mentors at the community level, but you are supporting projects that ultimately benefit the community. We believe it's an excellent initiative for companies that are interested in development at the community level to invest in."
He noted that the companies will benefit by being identified with the particular project. He is anticipating that if volunteerism is given the recognition it deserves, it will help to transform communities right across the country.
The state minister said the decision to add the category was driven by feedback from young people. He said many young people were doing tremendous work at the community level, but were not being rewarded, acknowledged or appreciated.
"Among the difficulties we face is that we don't know the people who are performing these quiet services," he said.
... Nominees invited for
Jamaica 55 Special Award
Recipients of the 'Jamaica 55 Special Award' under this year's Prime Minister's National Youth Awards for Excellence, like others, will be required to complete an application. However, Floyd Green, state minister with responsibility for youth, is also reaching out to community-based organisations and, especially, the Social Development Commission, which works with young people and community groups to identify individuals who would qualify for an award. Members of the public are also being asked to nominate persons.
"We are going to be reaching out to those organisations that we know have significant reach ... . Youth centres will also be asked to nominate persons for the award," said Green.
Meanwhile, the state minister will continue to encourage youth participation by, among other things, strengthening such organisations as the National Secondary Students' Council and the Jamaica Union of Tertiary Students.
NATIONAL YOUTH POLICY
Green anticipates that young people will be encouraged by the National Youth Policy, which will soon be tabled in Parliament. He said the policy will, in another two weeks, be brought to the Cabinet for approval.
The recipients of the Jamaica 55 Special Award must have demonstrated outstanding and consistent voluntary service at the community and/or national level. These persons must have given service which is not related to mandatory obligations for work or school.
Green noted that the possibility exists that the award for volunteerism could become a regular fixture on the awards agenda.