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Mandingo makings its mark in Mt. Salem

Published:Thursday | April 21, 2016 | 1:51 PMOkoye Henry
Contributed photo Members of the Mandingo Youth Club and their supporters pose for a photo following a pedestrian crossing-painting exercise recently.

The Mandingo Youth Club, which is based in Mt Salem, Montego Bay, is being hailed as a haven for at-risk and unattached youths, many of whom have had their lives transformed through the club's programmes over the past two years.

The club's initiatives involve community aid and developmental activities, which have been instrumental in reforming many youngsters, mostly males, some from as young as six years old, who are often exposed to violence.

"We target these at-risk youths and have been doing a lot of work with them, work such as getting them into training programmes through the National Youth Service and the Citizen Security and Justice Programme III to get some into the HEART training centre and getting them back in school," said Floyd Foster, the president of the Mandingo Youth Club.

"We do other team-building projects with the youths like contribute items to the Mt. Salem Primary and Junior High School. So we've been getting involved with the community and doing a lot," added Foster.

According to Foster, the club was revamped in 2014 after being mostly dormant for nearly two decades. At the time of its establishment, it had a membership of 15, but currently it boasts more than 35 active members. There is now a plan in place to do a membership drive to increase the number.

origins of club

"The club's name (Mandingo) is derived from an African tribe. History shows that the tribe was independent, strong and hardworking, so we (as members) try to adopt this very nature of living," Foster explained.

The club recently gave the Mt Salem community a special gift when members painted a pedestrian crossing to aid children attending the Mt Salem Primary and Junior High School.

Foster said he had identified that the school was in dire need of a pedestrian crossing as students were at risk of getting hit by vehicles when crossing the main road close to the school.

With the aid of a few benefactors, including Richard Vernon, the Jamaica Labour Party's councillor caretaker for Montego Bay south division; Barrington Wilson, the councillor caretaker for the Mt Salem division; and the Mt Salem Community Development Committee, the club is confident of taking on and completing many more important projects

"It was a long and hot day, but, ultimately, it was worth it as the day turned out to be very productive," said Foster, in reference to the painting of the pedestrian crossing. " I hope that motorists will honour the sign and the students will use it as instructed."