Jamaicans urged to support youth in juvenile remand centres
Chairman of the non-profit organisation, Trust for the Americas, Michael Lee-Chin, is calling on influential individuals to provide support for youth, specifically girls, in juvenile remand centres, so they can be in a better position to thrive when they leave the system.
"Those of us who have a voice in the system and power in the marketplace should make sure we extend those facilities to those of our daughters in (juvenile remand centres) who don't have a voice...to give them the (opportunity) to be contributory citizens eventually," he said during a visit to the South Camp Road Juvenile Remand and Correctional Centre on Wednesday.
He said the trust will be leading the charge for support by designing a programme for the girls at the centre "that will give them the support they need".
"The good thing is that they are in a captive environment (in a positive way) where we can influence them in terms of values, in terms of getting them caught up with school. In fact, they should be ahead of their peers, and at the same time, we have to look at transitioning, so that they never come back in this situation and that they are optimistic that they can be contributing citizens to Jamaica," said Lee-Chin.
"Our job is to help you to get to that point where you feel confident, you feel optimistic, you feel like a good person.
We are going to do whatever it takes to help you be transformed from who you think you are now to the beautiful person that is within you."
State minister in the Ministry of National Security, Pearnel Charles Jr.; and state minister for education, youth and information, Floyd Green, who accompanied Lee-Chin on the tour of the facility, welcomed the support already being provided under the New Path initiative as well as the additional support that will be forthcoming.
A New Path was implemented by the Organization of American States (OAS) and Trust for the Americas, with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The project, which began in January 2015, was scheduled to end in January 2017 but has been extended until September 2019.
'A New Path' for marginalised young people.'
The Trust for the Americas, in collaboration with the Organization of American States (OAS), currently works with young offenders in juvenile centres across the island, including South Camp Road, under its 'A New Path' initiative. It also targets youth in State care facilities and the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP).
The initiative aims to provide hope to marginalised young people who have come into conflict with the law, by providing them with the requisite skills for reintegration into the society.
The programme is designed to enhance the youngsters' emotional well-being, which it is anticipated will contribute to reduced recidivism and, ultimately, reduced crime and violence.
It offers and facilitates weekly counselling, the implementation of educational and vocational training, conflict-resolution programmes as well as opportunities for apprenticeship and internship. It works on key areas that can enable the successful economic and social integration of youth.