Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer
Despite their financial challenges, Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) has declared that their doors will be still be open today for youths seeking counselling.
YOU is a charitable voluntary Jamaican organisation that currently has more than 3,000 adolescents enrolled. The YOU mentoring programme involves the one-to-one matching of caring adult volunteer mentors with 'in-school' adolescents from the ages of 10-19 who are at risk of dropping out of school.
"We are a voluntary organisation. Even though we don't have the funding to sustain ourselves, we have to ensure that mentoring stays alive within the organisation. Mentoring is the core of the organisation, it was started through mentoring and it is very much alive, but on a much smaller scale," argued Karen Smith, YOU's mentor coordinator.
She further stressed that the organisation is faced with various problems and may not be able to reach the target group through its entirety. As a result of the challenges, a number of the programmes they started in several communities such as Mountain view, Rockfort and Trench Town, have closed down.
Kate Chapell, marketing and public relations coordinator at YOU, has stated that the organisation remains optimistic that funds will be forthcoming.
YOU has provided positive interventions for more than 67,000 in-school adolescents since its inception in 1991. They offer more than 21 mentoring and vital support programmes designed to help students complete their post-primary education and pursue higher education and employment.