GoodHeart | Manchester Peace Coalition charting a way forward for at-risk communities
The Mandeville suburbs has been a favourite destination for retired residents returning home from overseas and a place for many persons to live and visit because of its very cool climate. However, crime has been the cause of the economic downturn and missed opportunities for Manchester for many years.
Various stakeholders, including medical practitioner Dr Clifton Reid, have joined forces to help transform the parish through collaborative initiatives.
The Manchester Peace Coalition (MPCo), headed by Reid, has formed a committee working to chart the way forward for 18 at-risk communities through holistic development, focusing on education, training, sports and recreation, and economic projects.
“In 2015, Dr Herbert Gayle, noted social anthropologist, conducted behavioural research on 15 at-risk communities identified by the local police. At the end of his research, the number of communities was increased to 18,” Reid said.
MPCo was later founded in 2016 and, according to Reid, is mandated to work on collaborative initiatives to create a healthy and safe environment. “Our mission is to reduce domestic violence, promote better parenting, reduce school drop-out rates, support uniformed youth groups, reduce levels of child abuse in Manchester and implement income-generating projects in the targeted communities,” he said.
The birth of MPCo came with the visit of Dr Louis D’Amore, founder and president of the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIP), to Mandeville in 2013 to attend the IIPT Caribbean Communities Tourism Conference and Study Tour.
D’Amore, supported by the then Manchester Parish Council, declared Mandeville as the first IIPT Peace Town in the Caribbean. Brooks Park Sports and Recreation Complex is the first IIPT Peace Park in the Caribbean.
“The Manchester Peace Coalition is a vehicle to be used by persons inclined to be part of the solutions to be applied to the various challenges besetting our communities. We are targeting crime, utilising several objectives to achieve our goals. It is open to anyone wishing to work with like-minded persons to serve,” Reid explained.
Some of the MPCo initiatives include community peace games, an annual Father’s Day celebration, peace projects designed for the Manchester High School, World Peace Day extended to World Peace Week with various initiatives throughout the week, strong partnerships with stakeholder groups, particularly the Manchester Parish Cultural Development Committee, Social Development Committee and police organisations.
There are currently plans to forge long-term relationships with the at-risk communities identified by focusing on education and training, sports and recreation, economic empowerment and to assist the Manchester Municipal Corporation to complete and execute the Peace Town Plan for Mandeville.
Through this initiative, Reid has touched many lives. Through his passion for reaching out to the less fortunate and his desire to contribute to community development, the philanthropist has received several accolades, including a Community Tourism Award.
The MPCo leader has been practising private family medicine in Mandeville since 1989. His private practice is located at the Hargreaves Memorial Hospital, where he is also one of the resident doctors. According to Reid, their efforts are critical instruments of survival for our country.
“I shudder to think what Jamaica would be without the work and support of volunteers. As a Lion and member of several service-oriented groups, I have joined my MPCo colleagues to donate time and other resources in the service of those less fortunate,” he said.