Clarendon residents urged to resolve conflicts peacefully
Lamenting that some 65 per cent of admissions to the parish’s main hospital was largely due to injuries especially from domestic violence, May Pen Mayor Winston Maragh appealed to residents to actively seek to resolve their conflicts peacefully.
“Can you imagine if we had peace and if everyone learned to live good with each other? You know how much money we would have saved in this country?” he asked.
“I just want to say to you cut out the violence. This is what we want to teach about, and I’m happy that we have our young people here and we are going to promote non-violence in schools,” he said.
Maragh, who was addressing patrons attending a fun day in observation of International Day of Peace, cited data from research done by the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) two years ago on admission cases at the May Pen Hospital which highlighted the figures.
The event – ‘Peaceful X-Change: Everything Active’ sports and family fun day – was hosted by the VPA in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Positive Pathways on September 21 at the Effortville Community Centre in May Pen, Clarendon.
Dr Deanna Ashley, executive director of the VPA, who also addressed the opening ceremony of the International Day of Peace, said the event was a day to recognise one’s responsibility to foster peace. She commended participants in Project X-Change for coming up with the initiative of a sports and family fun day to celebrate International Day of Peace.
Project X-Change is an initiative of USAID Positive Pathways, and is being implemented by VPA in May Pen and Effortville in Clarendon, as well as Hannah Town and Jones Town in Kingston. The project is focused on interventions to assist in ‘ex-changing’ a negative trajectory of very high-risk youth, aged 17-29 years old, to a more positive pathway.
“It is also about competition with fair play, understanding respect and trust, and acknowledging that somebody else is in charge of the game and the referee will rule the game,” she said.
“We continue to work on the various elements of the project and look forward to building on the lessons learnt over the last six months,” she said.
Gerard Fontain, director, Office of Citizen Security at USAID Jamaica, said that the organisation was committed to fostering peace and stability within Jamaican communities.
“USAID’s partnership with the Violence Prevention Alliance through Positive Pathways is a testament of our shared commitment. Through this collaboration, our hope is to impact the lives of young people in Clarendon and Kingston and St Andrew and to offer them a pathway to success,” he said.
“As we gather to celebrate International Day of Peace, we recognise that peace is not just the absence of conflict but the presence of opportunities especially for youth. The friendly football competition today embodies the peace that we all want for our communities,” he said.
The day’s celebration saw a friendly knockout football competition between participants from Project X-Change in May Pen and their counterpart youth participants from Kingston and St Andrew.
Patrons who attended the sports and family fun day also benefited from health checks and other social services. Stakeholders in attendance included representatives from the National Health Fund, the National Council on Drug Abuse, the Heart Foundation, the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), the Ministry of Justice, Restorative Justice, Central High School, the Clarendon Health Department, and HEART/NSTA Trust.
Saraean Williams, a member of the Effortville community, commended the organisers for the initiative and said she was able to benefit from the health services offered.
“I really do like the initiative because, as an inner-city community, not often we have fairs like these. We welcome the Project X-Change programme. The intervention is really needed, and I do hope that they (participants) in the programme will make use of the opportunity provided to them and will make changes as young men as they are the future,” she said.