Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
SOME 350 students from 21 at-risk communities in St James were on Friday given books, bags, and other supplies by the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) as back-to-school gifts for the new school year.
Reverend Everton Jackson, chairman of the PMI in St James, said the project, which is in its third year, was inspired by the conviction that peace management is contingent on social intervention.
"This back-to-school project is to be considered as one of our social intervention programmes aimed at facilitating the empowerment of young lives so that they might be better able to prepare themselves for future engagement in societal development," said Jackson.
He said it is of paramount importance that efforts be made to ensure that young people are in school receiving an education and not left on their own to become involved in nefarious activities.
"When young people do not get a chance to educate themselves, it is quite likely that they will become involved in criminal activities and other deviant behaviours," continued Jackson.
"So the PMI is concerned about partnering with parents and guardians from the deprived communities, where they are unable by themselves to ensure that their children get the requisite tools to advance their educational pursuits."
Jackson also had advice for the parents of the children, who he implored to play their part in ensuring that their children went to school.
"Consider this a sacred responsibility - that of seeing to it that your children go to school so as to benefit from an education. This is the only way they are going to be equipped to make an invaluable contribution to the ongoing development of our civilisation."
Garfield McGhie, the PMI administrator for St James, said the schoolbags and supplies, which were given out to children from the early childhood to secondary levels, were acquired using donations from individuals, corporate Jamaica, and the Ministry of National Security.
Carol Ricketts, one of the many grateful parents, whose two children were recipients of bags and supplies, was full of praise for the PMI.
"I want to say thanks to the PMI for everything that they have given to my children. This is of great help to me. I am very grateful for this assistance. I feel very good."