Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
In an effort to transform, empower and uplift the lives of young people in Jamaica, the Valley Foundation, a youth-based community organisation, had its official mentorship launch at the Undercroft, University of West Indies, Mona, in which mentors were matched with mentees and a prolific motivational session focusing on youth development.
The Valley Foundation is the brainchild of Dr André Haughton, a lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of the West Indies (UWI), and was established by UWI staff and students with a wealth of expertise in community development and philanthropy.
"Valley Foundation is dedicated to alleviating poverty via inclusive growth strategies that will inculcate independence, self-reliance and boost prosperity," Haughton said.
According to Haughton, the foundation will contribute to the positive transformation of marginalised communities by training and hiring community members as well as partnering with organisations in the private sector, government, non-governmental organisations, development agencies and civil society to implement developmental programmes and projects in these communities.
"We want to highlight the burning desire for mentorship and we are fully committed to taking this programme forward. Young people need guidance and we are doing our best to help them," Haughton said.
Programme coordinator at the Valley Foundation, Odayne Haughton, said their vision is to utilise the cultural and social capital of Brand Jamaica to empower, uplift and inspire members of marginalised communities as entrepreneurs in the creative and other niche industries.
"The official launch will be geared towards sensitising companies, the University population and Jamaica about the importance of mentorship, recruiting and matching mentors and mentees through the extension of the mentorship programme," Haughton said.
Aspire TO greatness
According to guidance counsellor Karl Smith from the Denham Town High School, they wanted to expose the students to the UWI campus and motivate them to aspire to greatness. "If they begin to aspire and take their education more seriously then they can become successful. These students have the potential but their behaviour isn't helping their cause," Smith said.
Various high schools from the inner city participated in the mentorship launch, including Denham Town, Excelsior, Papine and Haile Selassie.
"Under the theme for the year, 'Peer Nurturing instead of Peer Pressuring', through philanthropic efforts, we believe that we can positively, collectively transform Jamaica," Haughton said.
Full Caption: Dr André Haughton (right), chairman of the Valley Foundation, speaks with students from Papine and Denham Town high schools about the Foundation's Mentorship Programme. The Valley Foundation, a youth-based community organisation, had its official mentorship launch at the Undercroft, University of West Indies, Mona, recently, in which mentors were matched with mentees and a motivational session focusing on youth development. - Ian Allen/Photographer