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J’can body holds youth leadership conference

Published:Sunday | December 8, 2019 | 12:00 AMDavid Salmon/Contributor
Jhannel Tomlinson with participants at the conference.

The Jamaica Federation of UNESCO Clubs Centres and Associations (JFUCCA), in collaboration with the Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO (JNC–UNESCO), hosted its third Youth Leadership Conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre recently under the theme ‘Achieving Agenda for 2030: Youth as Key Stakeholders 4 Development’.

The conference aimed “to give youth a voice and platform to speak on issues affecting them and assist them in driving change within their communities”.

In total, 93 persons participated, including UNESCO Club Members, Jamaica Culture Club Members and students from 12 schools.

Yuri Peshkov, culture programme specialist at the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean, stressed the important role that clubs and associations play as, “they are the driving force for social development and change as empowering youth is vital for development”.

Kerry-Ann Willis, a UNESCO Club member, gave students tips on how they can achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals by identifying key institutions who are willing to support their projects, being innovative, volunteering and an advocacy.

Pearnel Charles, Jr, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, told the gathering that the JNC–UNESCO, “has successfully provided a platform for young people in Jamaica to discuss real issues and what will come from this experience is an empowerment of your own mind, thinking, and assessment”.

‘Mental Health and Youth’

During her presentation, Keisha Tomlinson, president of the JFUCCA, spoke on the topic of ‘Mental Health and Youth’.

She outlined her personal experience growing up as a child suffering from self-esteem issues. However, she said she overcame this issue through her faith and by using her passion for helping children.

“Don’t give anyone permission to cancel your future with their words,” Tomlinson said.

Other presenters included UNESCO Youth Advisory Committee members, Sujae Boswell and Mikiela Gonzales, who gave a report on their recent trip to Paris to attend the 11th UNESCO Youth Forum and the 40th session of the UNESCO General Conference.

Aldon Currie also gave a synopsis on his trip to Sweden to attend the Media Information Literacy (MIL) Conference, where MIL was discussed as “a tool that lets us protect ourselves on various platforms while allowing us to think critically of our interactions in these media spaces.”

However, the highlight of the conference was the pitch competition, conducted by Carlinton Burrell, chief executive officer of the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre. During this session, students were placed in groups and received presentations on the business model canvas, after which they were tasked with the challenge to develop an innovative business model that solves a pressing problem.

The objective of the activity was to develop an entrepreneurship mindset in students. The winners of that competition were from the May Day UNESCO Club for their recycling plastic bottle idea, ‘Triple R’.

They received a smart phone from FLOW, journals and certificates.

Tomlinson told The Sunday Gleaner that, “any school can set up a UNESCO club and we would be willing to provide guidance needed”.

She said: “We are also inviting young professionals to work with our executive board in crafting projects that can impact youth development.”


The objectives of the conference were to:

• Provide a platform for youth to discuss their role in achieving Vision 2030.

• Support youth in safeguarding their mental health through living a healthy lifestyle.

• Foster a creative environment where youth can learn how to be a catalyst for change.

• Support youth in being innovators in order to achieve more sustainable communities.

For further information, the Jamaica Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations can be contacted on Instagram @jfuccaclub, on Facebook at the Jamaica Federation of UNESCO Clubs Centre and Associations page and via email at