Young People Embarking on ‘A New Path’ to Economic Independence

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National Security State Minister, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., has hailed the ‘A New Path’ initiative as a movement that not only transforms the lives of beneficiaries but also guides them along a course of economic independence.

‘A New Path’ targets young people drawn from juvenile remand centres, State care facilities and the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP).

It aims to provide hope to marginalised young people who have come into conflict with the law by providing them with the requisite skills for reintegration in the society.

Senator Charles made the remarks at the closing ceremony of the first Organization of American States (OAS) ‘Pitch It!: Learning and Investing in Your Future’ initiative at The Knustford Court Hotel in New Kingston on September 5.

‘Pitch It!: Learning and Investing in Your Future’ is a part of the OAS ‘A New Path’ Initiative.

Senator Charles urged the participants to be agents of change in their communities and not to be daunted by naysayers, while encouraging each youngster to “challenge yourself to always be better for yourself, your communities, for Jamaica and the world”.

He lauded the sponsors, adding that the Ministry will continue to provide the requisite support to transform the lives of the participants.

For her part, President, Junior Achievement Jamaica, Alphie Mullings-Aiken, said while the initiative focused solely on those in State care facilities and remand centres, the project aims to empower youth to own their personal economic success.

She indicated that 111 youth were engaged in a two-day training exercise, after which 51 were assessed during a week-long residential programme at the University of the West Indies. Additionally, she said they benefited from the Junior Achievement Company of Entrepreneurs training.

“Each of the 51 attendees pitched their (business) proposal to a panel of judges. As the dust settled, 21 were awarded through the generous support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Organisation of American States, the Trust for the Americas and Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB) with an opportunity to start their own business,” she said.

Mrs. Mullings-Aiken further informed that the other 30 participants received three-month work internships with local companies, adding that many are still employed.

In her remarks, OAS Country Representative for Jamaica, Jeanelle van Glaanen Weygel, urged the participants to use their experiences to inspire others.

The young people, drawn from juvenile remand centres, State care facilities and CSJP were awarded start up grants to begin their business ventures.

Those established included engagements in photography, food and beverage and clothing retail, electrical and computer repair, tailoring, poultry farming and entertainment.

The ‘A New Path’ project, which began in January 2015, was scheduled to end in January 2017, but has been extended until September 2019.

The programme offers and facilitates weekly counselling, the implementation of educational and vocational training, conflict-resolution programmes as well as opportunities for apprenticeship and internship.

It also includes a music programme in collaboration with the National Youth Orchestra, and a sports aspect facilitated by the Youth for Development Network.

publish date: 
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
published by: 
JIS