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Gleaner Editors' Forum | Political youth arms employ contrasting methods of engagement

Published:Thursday | May 24, 2018 | 12:00 AMBrian Walker/Staff Reporter
Krystal Tomlinson, president PNPYO
Chevelle Maitland

The youth arms of the main political parties are using contrasting methods to make politics and governance more attractive to youth in a push to boost participation. Young Jamaica, one of two Jamaica Labour Party affiliates, which focuses on unattached youth, disclosed that social media has been instrumental in stirring up interest and driving enrolment.

According to Chavelle Maitland, external affairs chairperson for Young Jamaica, the group's membership has increased from 2,500 in 2014 to its current complement of 7,000 islandwide.

"... Our membership base is growing exponentially, and it wasn't before. We are coming from a place of dormancy," she told a Gleaner Youth Forum yesterday.

She continued: "There's this notion that young people are not necessarily interested in politics, but I disagree with that. On a personal level, I think that we are interested in politics. The thing is, though, other than Young Jamaica, G2K (Generation 2000) , PNPYO (People's National Party Youth Organisation), and so on, there are not a lot of other avenues."

Conversely, Krystal Tomlinson, president of the PNPYO, noted that recruitment was not the main component of the group's operational strategy. Instead, a top priority is to empower youth to embrace a civic identity.

Tomlinson explained, "We don't have any interest in rallying people unto a voters' list and to come get registered: 'Come! You need to follow back a-dis'. We're not doing that anymore. At least not in the two years leading up to the election."

Tomlinson argued that the new approach would foster a stronger sense of purpose among youth. "We want youth who have independent voices and when you choose to be a (PNPYO) member, it must be because you looked at the landscape and saw that your issue is best aligned over here."