Sun | Dec 16, 2018

HOLY Network Centre to reach more inner-city communities

Published:Saturday | August 25, 2018 | 12:00 AM

The Healthy Ones Lifestyle Youth (HOLY) Network Centre is continuing to make strides in its efforts to transform the lives of at risk youth ages 13 to 19 years old by securing a property on Waltham Park Road, St Andrew.

This move comes in light of the programme outgrowing its current location at Grafico Prints on Barry Street in downtown, Kingston. The property, which is currently under renovation, will cater to some 125 youths and counting, from the Waltham Park Road area, Whitfield Town, Greenwich Town, Three Miles, Maxfield and the downtown environs.

In giving an update on the new premises, the executive director of the HOLY Network, Rev Daval Bell, who purchased the property, disclosed that the electrical work had been completed. Carpentry activities, he explained, were still ongoing to outfit the computer room as well as other areas.




Assistance with outfitting the structure has come in the form of an air condition for the computer room from the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA); grille work, the computer lab, printers and laptops from Grafico Prints; and, desktop computers, printers and an embroidery machine from the Digicel Foundation. However, Rev Bell pointed out that more funding was required to fix the roof of the structure, which is leaking.

The Network, which was founded by Rev Bell, continues to impact positively on the lives of at risk and unattached youth. The programme engages youth in literacy and numeracy using video making primarily as a method for them to express themselves.

"This also has a therapeutic side as well. They create stories based on their real lives and then we make a mini movie about it. This type of engagement helps the children by boosting their morale and also motivating them," he explained.

The Network Centre gets children who are on probation, street children, and those whose parents decide not to send them to school. "Sometimes we get them as early as age 13 when they are in grade seven giving problems. Sometimes we get them intermittently at ages 15 and 16 years and, at age 16, some are ready to move on to HEART/NTA," he pointed out.

Through access to the literacy software AutoSkills and computers under the 2010 Learning Net Works programme spearheaded by the VPA in collaboration with the JN Foundation, literacy levels of the children attending the centre improved exponentially. This is evident as some of the children can be prepared by the centre's volunteer teachers for Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) which include mathematics and English.

"Those who are able to matriculate at a technical institution such as the HEART/ NTA come back to us when they are finished to get work. We have some working at a baking company, as well as security guards, and in whatever work can be found for them," Rev Bell stated, while noting that many returned to assist the programme by mentoring other children.