Fri | Sep 17, 2021

Clarendon SOS | HEART key to unlocking Clarendon youth potential, says recruiter

Published:Monday | June 10, 2019 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer

With stakeholders citing poverty as a major driver of crime in Clarendon, the HEART Trust/NTA is vigorously promoting training programmes to redirect at-risk youth in the central Jamaica parish, says Zeco Brown, recruitment coordinator of the agency’s South West regional office.

Crime has had a grave impact on commerce and public safety and security in Clarendon, even though the parish has experienced a 15 per cent decline in murders – from 64 to 54 –for the first five months of the year compared to 2018.

While acknowledging that education and training initiatives alone will not stave off the tide of murder, Brown said that HEART, along with police intervention, is key to reorienting wayward youth.

“We know that education is the key out of poverty, and I associate the crime with persons not having enough or persons not being able to provide, and so our aim is, through all of these training opportunities, to allow persons to earn and take care of their families,” he told The Gleaner.

Brown said that HEART, in partnership with the Social Development Commission in Clarendon, was seeking to have an impact on all 79 communities in the parish.

“One of the things we have found out is that some of these young people have literacy issues. They cannot read, and so we have been constantly inviting them to be part of our programme, which is done in collaboration with the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning, where we take a person with literacy problems and we make them literate,” he said.

The Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning, formerly the Jamaican Movement for Adult Literacy, was merged with HEART earlier this year.

The HEART recruitment coordinator said that the training agency also facilitated instruction for at-risk youths in order for them to sit Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations.

Rubbishing the claim that young people are not being effectively engaged to keep them out of trouble, Brown said there are a lot of opportunities for Clarendon youth.

“Young people just need to come out, ask questions, and get involved. They just have to be of open minds because sometimes young people come and they don’t get the programme they want, and they just give up,” he said.

Young people have been urged to be flexible and not narrow their interest to a single skill-training option.

Brown said the Youth Employment in the Digital and Animation Industry course has been a hit as the six-week programme trains youths to digitise documents.