Report on Youth Support Jamaica and on the Progress of a Centre for Youth
Support in Jamaica
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’
Support Jamaica aims to provide much needed services to children, youth
and families in Jamaica.
are currently being
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.
on the centre in St Elizabeth which should be operational
Aims - The need for centres in Jamaica
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.
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.
– 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.
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.
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.
premises consist of the following :-
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
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
Projected activities and services
which will eventually be developed
on site in
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.
classes and courses for adults and children in IT skills – computing etc.
access – internet café type approach
courses in It subjects
Publishing and printing
Support Publications would have input into the site – this would involve
planning new projects and preparing manuscript –
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
and drama, music and music therapy. Counselling courses. Sports / martial
arts courses – these run at particular times
and art therapy –
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.
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
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
have continued to work with their schools and the young people
individually. They acted
leaders at our conference in 2004 in
Kingston. Work has also been done
in terms of peer counselling and teaching the course at the Women’s centre
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
and video production
Education materials production
Conferences and Seminars
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
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.
has been conducted on teenage pregnancy in Jamaica and a video has also
been produced for research purposes.
conclusion therefore we are working hard to provide very much needed
resources for families and youth and children in Jamaica.
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.
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.
Please support us in our work