Promoting healing in conflict-plagued Rose Town
Youth get skills to boost job-readiness, resolve conflicts
Twenty-one-year-old Twyrike Campbell is a proud alumnus of Rose Town Construction Internship Programme, which is giving at-risk youth from the inner-city community a fighting chance by steering them towards a productive future.
Campbell was one of 20 at-risk youth from the St Andrew-based community, who participated in the first leg of the programme launched in March 2021 by the Phillip and Christine Gore Family Foundation in partnership with the Rose Town Foundation.
The programme exposed participants to masonry, carpentry, plumbing, electrical studies, garden design and painting, outdoor recreation, waste management, and construction safety, among other areas.
“It really helped us as at-risk youth ... to show that there is more to life,” said Campbell, who is awaiting certification in project management from The University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus after completing the course last month.
“The persons who sponsored it, they’re actually investing in us and spending time with us and teaching us on the right path, so it’s wonderful,” he added.
Twelve participants – five males and seven females between the ages of 17 and 25 – make up the second cohort, which is now looking to embark on the nine-month programme.
Ruth Jankee, executive director of the Rose Town Foundation, said the new participants were attracted by the successes of the inaugural participants.
“Most of the young people here now joined because of what they saw with the ones who joined last year, and the experience that they speak about. These other young people in the community, for many of them, it was the first time they were seeing people getting up and going to work every day. That’s not common in many communities,” Jankee told The Gleaner on Wednesday as the second cohort began their journey.
She revealed that most of the participants from the first cohort are currently employed or pursuing further education.
“They not only got skills in all things relating to construction, but they also got the psychological and emotional support to make them understand the importance of reliability, commitment, accountability, conflict resolution, and team-building, which meant that when they were finished, they were really employable,” she said.
And as the programme continues to grow, Jankee believes it will help to address the shortage of skilled labourers in Jamaica.
“We try to encourage the young people that when you have a skill, you don’t have to worry about a job. There are jobs out there for people who have these skills, so we really encourage them to make the most of it through this programme,” she added.
Christine Gore, executive director of the Phillip and Christine Gore Family Foundation, said she was particularly proud of the programme’s role in violence prevention, noting that the interns are strategically chosen from the North and South Rose Town areas that are known to be in conflict to help ease tensions.
“The Rose Town Foundation headquarters is in the middle of North and South Rose Town and that’s where the bus picks them up. After a few months in the programme, they get off the bus and they go home together. Everything that we do is done to promote that healing in the community. It’s a lot more than just a construction programme,” Gore said.
She told The Gleaner the foundation will be partnering with the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica’s violence prevention initiative, Project STAR, to expand the programme into other communities.
“Our at-risk youth programme has been acknowledged as being effective. So, we’re giving them everything for them to use in all their 10 communities that they’re going into,” said Gore.