Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer
The Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) will tomorrow host the Race For Peace as it continues its mission to provide assistance towards the development of the literacy skills of unattached inner-city youth. Tomorrow will be celebrated worldwide as International Peace Day.
Race For Peace is an initiative aimed at raising funds for VPA's Learning Networks of Jamaica Programme.
This programme targets youth living in volatile areas of the inner city. The youngsters in the programme have the opportunity to gain life and employability skills to greatly enhance their self-esteem and transforms their lives.
"A lot of people drop out of school because there is nobody there to encourage them or provide support. So we implemented Learning Networks, which is a life-skills programme on the computer," Brittany Singh, co-director at VPA, told The Gleaner.
"The point of the programme is to bring their literacy up to the ninth-grade level, enabling them to take the HEART (Human Employment and Resource Training) exam at the National Training Agency."
There are currently 12 learning networks in sections of the island, including in Cassava Piece, Duke Street and Boys' Town in the Corporate Area. Since inception in 2005, these centres have assisted in the development of more than 650 young men.
One of the main challenges faced by the VPA is finding funds to sustain these centres, as approximately J$40,000 is required to keep one participant in the programme for a year. As such, various fund-raisers such as Race For Peace are held throughout the year.
"This is our third staging of the event. It is about bringing people from different backgrounds and communities together in sports. People need to get involved as one person can always make a difference by even committing your time, not just through Learning Networks but in your homes and also your workplace," Singh said.
"We can prevent violence through education. You take all these take young men off the streets, out of gangs and illegal activities and give them something to look forward to. I mean a lot of them have said that all they ever wanted to know was how to read and write as something as simple as that prevented them from getting simple jobs," she added.
The Race For Peace will take place tomorrow at the Mona Bowl at the University of the West Indies, Mona, from 2-5 p.m.