Mon | Feb 17, 2020

On the Corner with EPOC | Oh for a community centre - Training and sports to save the youths of Gregory Park

Published:Sunday | July 1, 2018 | 12:00 AMCarlene Davis
Claudette ‘Miss Cherry’ Douglas (right) makes her point, while 'Blacks' (centre) and Fabian White listen, at the Gleaner On the Corner with EPOC forum in Gregory Park, St Catherine.

Determined to save the unattached youths in the area from a life of crime, residents of Gregory Park in Portmore, St Catherine, are pleading for a proper community centre which can be used for sports and skills training.

According to the residents, a community centre would provide a point of contact and support for the young people who might be tempted to take the wrong path.

"We need development in Gregory Park, we have been undeveloped for a very long time," declared Fabian White as he made his contribution to the latest Gleaner On the Corner with the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) forum, at Crazy D Sports Bar in the community.

He was adamant that training programmes, and any form of physical activity, would play a role in keeping the youths occupied and away from illegal activities.

"How can you have a community like Gregory Park without a community centre where the girls can play little netball and the boys can play football. There is nothing, it's dead. If the politician them who we vote for could only understand that this is what we need. We do not need anything much, just a little development. We need some upliftment in our community," said White.

He was supported by fellow resident Claudette 'Miss Cherry' Douglas, who stressed the need for the young people in the community to be gainfully employed.

According to Miss Cherry, she is often approached by young people begging her money, and argued that if they were earning their own wages, they wouldn't have a need to beg.

"We need somewhere, where them can do something for themselves. Some of them have education, and games like cricket, football and netball can help them. If I had the money a nuff little girls I would get involved in things like sewing and crochet," said Miss Cherry.

Responding to the concerns of the residents, co-chairman of EPOC, Keith Duncan, said while he understands the need for a community centre, they needed to stress the importance of training and education for the youths.

Duncan asked the adults in the community to encourage the youths to become trained and qualified, and added that the community centre could double as a training point.

"These services are available. Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning can take you and assess where you are and take you to a place where you can get certified, and then you go into HEART (Trust/NTA). When you walk into any entity with a HEART certificate, you are qualified to get a work," said Duncan.