Thirty-eight teenage parents from the tough inner-city community of Whitfield Town in southwest St Andrew have been provided with parenting workshops, psychosocial support and skills training to boost their employment and earning capacity.
The teenagers were trained over eight months in a project supported by a Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) grant, executed by the Jamaica Social investment Fund (JSIF) and implemented by PEY & Associates in partnership with Coalition for Better Parenting and Professional Development Institute and Girls' Town.
The project was executed through the Whitfield Town Community Action Plan Project.
The programme is expected to provide a bridge for teenage mothers and fathers - some of whom dropped out of school.
It gave them basic social and technical skills in parenting, decision making, interpersonal communication, deportment, preparing for a job interview, using the computer, starting a small business, childcare, housekeeping, cosmetology, and food preparation.
The graduates were full of praise for the programme.
"The programme has changed my life - I can now write a résumé and cover letter and better prepare for a job interview," said one graduate.
"I will stop shouting at my baby. I learn that is not a healthy way to raise a child," added another graduate, while others noted that the programme introduced them to solving their differences without quarrelling.
Four of the graduates have already found employment.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony for the teenage parents last week, Rhonda Lumsden-Lue, general manager, human resources, administration and communication at JSIF, noted that the JSDF engages community stakeholders to create projects that would facilitate a programme to engage at-risk youth, thereby preventing crime and improving community safety.
Through this project, participants were provided with individual and group sessions, childcare practices, becoming a responsible parent, rights of the child, and how to access birth certificates and immunisation.
Lumsden-Lue also noted that the programme included provisions for skills training opportunities through HEART certification, and getting back into the education system.
The final component of the project will be a Parent Day.
This will include the accessing of social services and information through several agencies.