Projects in Jamaica

Report on Youth Support Jamaica and on the Progress of a Centre for Youth Support in Jamaica


August 2014




The Charity Youth Support is an International Charity registered with the Charity Commission in the United Kingdom and also registered as a company with Companies House UK. Youth Support is also registered with Jamaican Registrar of Companies as an International non profit making Company operating in Jamaica as ‘Youth Support Jamaica’


Youth Support Jamaica aims to provide much needed services to children, youth and families in Jamaica. Services are currently being centred on a multipurpose site in a rural location (St Elizabeth) and will develop a series of activities which will serve local youth and families. It is envisaged that eventually several sites may be developed throughout the island including services in Kingston.


Work has progressed well on the centre in St Elizabeth which should be operational shortly.




Aims  - The need for centres in Jamaica


Youth – In Jamaica the problems of youth have impinged greatly on society in general. There is a great need for counselling, support and education services plus services aimed at targeting specific groups and problems. Adolescent violence, gang culture, drug abuse and early parenthood all stem from and perpetuate poverty and deprivation. Intervention at this level is imperative.  In our experience vocational training coupled with some therapeutic input can sow the seed for change even in youth who have been already involved with the judicial system.   Youth are also society’s greatest resource for the future and so far Youth involved in our programmes have shown great potential for personal growth and change and great hope for the future of their societies.


Families  - Families may experience stress stemming from poor finances, drug or alcohol abuse, family illness or marital disharmony. Problems may also stem from the illness or emotional problems of a child. Whatever the reason – family support and therapy can be beneficial. We aim to provide such help for families as a whole or for individuals who may need to come to terms with a personal problem such as drug use or eating disorder etc before the whole family dynamic can be tackled.


Children –  Nowadays many parents need to work full time even when they have small children. Children are sometimes left alone when too young or with inappropriate carers. They may be raised in poverty or overcrowded conditions . We aim to help families support themselves and their children and to provide facilities where children can be nurtured and helped to develop their full potential. We believe that day care for children can and should be a positive experience for both children and parents, and that children need to be  monitored and encouraged to develop skills and emotional strengths during their period in day care.


In order to engage such youth in a therapeutic programme it is essential that they be involved on a practical level learning how to take part in day to day simple manual activities such as maintenance, painting gardening cooking etc Thereafter as they gain in confidence and trust of staff and also in being able to value their contribution, they are more able to take part in more complex vocational or academic parts of our programme until they reach a stage when they can leave and be weaned onto outside activities and schemes run by external agencies.  Similarly therapy needs to first be based on indirect and active approaches such as art, movement and drama and later direct individual and group work can be engaged in.


Youth Support Jamaica aims to provide a variety of services on the one site – services will complement each other and in our experience a multiplicity of services has been proved to work better than having a single aimed site in that it a) gives flexibility – being able to adapt services to suit current need; b)  it opens up the route to different approaches which give added opportunities to engage differing personalities; c) It allows people with varying problems to learn from each others experiences and strengths and d) Most importantly - it cuts across the destructive tendency of youth and adults  to create ‘counter cultures’  which perpetuate problems rather than seek solutions. This blueprint has worked well in our other centres.





The premises consist of the following :-


We are developing a centre in a relatively poor rural part of St Elizabeth which involves construction of the main building which will include lecture space, kitchen and eating areas, accommodation, interview rooms and counselling facilities.


The main building is surrounded by a compound which has play area, grounds and garden / lawn which can be re-sculpted to provide appropriate areas for young children, youth and general outdoor space. Garden and fruit trees and pets etc for youth to be able to learn about nature etc. and how to grow simple fruits and vegetables.


Classrooms – containers are being converted into classrooms and workshops which will also be used for -  education sessions; therapy sessions and groups; discussions; computer laboratory and workshops..


Progress on Premises  The site in St Elizabeth has been cleared and prepared and fenced. The main building has been constructed and further work is progressing.  We are awaiting further materials from Youth Support in UK principally to replace some items which were damaged in hurricane and some stolen items.


One very important aspect is the development of swimming and water therapy for disabled of which there are many in the area which has a high incidence of juvenile scoliosis - we are constructing a swmming pool which already has disabled access and a toilet accessible by the disabled allowing us to do aquatherapy and physio in the water for young people - an example is a local girl with scoliosis who cant move on dry land and has not been able to walk since she was 14 - now she would be able to 'walk' in the water and it will help her straighten a little and gain strength until funds can be secured for her operation.  [it should be noted that the ground is sandy in the area and thus wheelchairs cannot be used leaving the disabled stranded indoors where they become progressively weaker].



Projected activities and services which will eventually be developed on site in future



Education sessions for children experiencing problems with ‘regular’ education – whether by virtue of emotional / psychological reasons; inability to cope in class, developmental difficulty, physical handicap or other reason – each case assessed individually. Also special tuition for individual children at request of parents who require additional help either to keep up with their peers or to take exams.

Special classes and courses for adults and children in IT skills – computing etc.



Internet access – internet café type approach

Special courses in It subjects

Computer workshop


Publishing and printing

Youth Support Publications would have input into the site – this would involve planning new projects and preparing manuscript –

Print workshop – printing workshop including printing of leaflets and flyers, general printing and promotional articles– such as t shirts, coasters etc – the principle involved in all the workshop activities is for youth to be trained in the activities in order to acquire a trade and means to earn a living.


Special activities

Dance and drama, music and music therapy. Counselling courses. Sports / martial arts courses – these run at particular times


Art workshop

Classes and art therapy –

Art workshops for adults and children Art classes / painting for toddlers and pre school  Art exhibitions – local artists, in house productions and Jamaican art in general.


Other activities will be added as time goes on and as the needs arise – the importance of a centre such as this – is that flexibility is maintained at all times to ensure that services can change according to demand, to local need and to produce the best return for the site. This blueprint has worked successfully in other Youth Support sites – primarily the site at Youth Support House in London where services have been provided for over 16 years.


Progress on Activities – we have planned the various activities and have begun to work with youth in other areas – For example we have taken local youth to the World Youth Forum  in London  in October 2002 and 2006 and have continued to work with their schools and the young people individually. They acted also as youth leaders at our conference in 2004 in Mona in Kingston.    Work has also been done in terms of peer counselling and teaching the course at the Women’s centre in Kingston.  Workshops were held on a weekly basis in Tivoli in Kingston for a period of time and may be reinstituted in the future. We have been assessing needs of various groups of youth throughout the Island in terms of planning future interventions such as providing counselling support for schools and teachers.



Projected activities and services for YSJ in general



Website and video production

Education materials production


Conferences and Seminars

The Charity Youth Support hosts a large International conference on Adolescent Health and Welfare every two years. Previously events have been held at the Royal College of Physicians in London and at the Barbican in The City of London. Delegates attend from throughout the world with a very large contingent from the USA. One conference took place in Jamaica and may be repeated in future. This idea has been endorsed by many professional in the field including representatives from our British association, the American Academy of Paediatrics, The Society for Adolescent Medicine and PAHO Pan American Health Organisation.


Publications and websites have been developed for Youth Support Jamaica. Books have been shipped and leaflets produced specifically for Jamaican youth. – On Personal development, relationships, self esteem, crisis intervention, suicide and abuse.


Research has been conducted on teenage pregnancy in Jamaica and a video has also been produced for research purposes.




In conclusion therefore we are working hard to provide very much needed resources for families and youth and children in Jamaica.


We have been handicapped by price increases, devaluation of currency and other factors – but we have also been assisted by companies and organisations who have donated equipment and materials.  We are working on a very tight budget and hence we need all the help we can get in order to continue with this project.


Despite the many obstacles we have made a great deal of progress both with individuals youth and families who we have helped; with research and academic progress and in terms of physical construction. We intend to continue working on this project in future months and to be able to culminate our efforts in the conference 2004 when we will be able to ‘showcase’ Jamaican Youth and our Jamaican services.


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Youth Support Projects in Jamaica

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