Anastasia Cunningham, Senior Gleaner Writer
In order to effectively transform inner-city communities and greatly reduce the crime rate, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, through its community policing programme, realises it has to target the youth.
Statistics show that youth are heavily involved in crime and violence across Jamaica, with boys and young men featured as both the main perpetrators and victims.
With this in mind, the Kingston Central Police Division has embarked on a programme to build the capacity of youth and target them to be agents of change for their respective communities.
Yesterday, the division launched a summer programme with a difference under the theme 'Be The Change' at the University of the West Indies (UWI).
More than 60 children from Parade Gardens (Tel Aviv/Southside), Rose Gardens (Spoilers), Beverly Gardens (Fletchers Land) and Matthews Lane will spend four weeks learning how they can turn their communities around, while participating in fun-filled activities.
The programme will offer conflict-resolution techniques, communication, behaviour modification and leadership skills, among other things, as well as art and craft, dance, yoga, drama, poetry, music, various sporting activities and field trips.
Hosted in association with the Office of Social Entrepreneurship Youth Crime Watch Jamaica (OSE-YCWJ), the summer programme targets students 13 to 17 years and will run from July 12 to August 12, Tuesday to Thursday each week.
Stating that there were a lot of young, bright people in communities across Jamaica who just needed a chance, UWI lecturer Dr K'adamawe K'nife told the students this was the first step in a major plan to see some of them studying at UWI a few years from now.
Affirming that they can 'Be The Change', K'nife, who himself is a product of Arnett Gardens, said, "I hold firm to the belief that if a lot of persons wanted their communities to change, it would have been changed already, so we have to put ourselves in the position to change our communities."
Lena McBean, deputy superintendent of police from the Kingston Central Police Division, expressed that when the offer was made they could take the children out of their environment and up to UWI for their annual summer programme, she immediately jumped at it.
"This is indeed a historic moment, pulling these children out of their communities, that some of them have never been out of, and up to this great institution. We are looking at some future doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants and great business leaders and we expect that when you leave this programme, you will go back to being the change agent in your communities. This is a summer programme with a difference," she informed the students.
The students were equally excited about the programme.
"We like going to new places, meeting new people and learning new stuff," said Adrian Reid, from Parade Gardens.
The Kingston College student said he was excited about the programme and looked forward to four weeks that would be different from his usual summer activities.
Adrian, along with relatives Amilia Reid and Kaysha Reid, and friends Tanesha Boswell and Ruel Robinson, promised to effectively use what they have learnt in their own communities.