COMMUNITY DRIVERS: At-risk youth benefitting from project in 5 areas Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Approximately 300 at-risk youth are benefiting from targeted social interventions under the European Union (EU) BRIDGE Project.

The EU-funded project, which is being implemented by a non-governmental organisation, MultiCare Youth Foundation (MYF), seeks to prevent youth crime and violence by targeting at-risk youth, aged 15 to 29 years, in specific communities.

The project focuses on Building through Reintegration, Intervention, Development, Growth and Education (BRIDGE).

Speaking at a JIS Think Tank on March 14, Executive Director of the MYF, Alicia Glasgow Gentles, said the project is targeting five communities locally.

“We are providing opportunities for 300 youth in five communities across four parishes. It’s a 30-month project and the skills and opportunities that we’re hoping to provide are really targeted at those young people who reside in volatile communities in those parishes, and who really need access to skills training and job opportunities,” said Glasgow Gentles.

“In playing our part to reduce crime and violence among youth, we are exposing youth to opportunities, to a mind-set, to alternative behaviours that they would not necessarily have access to without our intervention,” she added.

The project is being carried out in Effortville, Clarendon; Salt Spring, St James; Russia, Westmoreland; and Trench Town and Whitfield Town in Kingston and St Andrew.

It began in January 2023, and sees the youth receiving support for reintegration into school, employment, mentorship, skills training and psychosocial intervention.

The BRIDGE project is being implemented at a cost of $75 million.

 Programme Manager of the EU Delegation to Jamaica, Luca Lo Conte, explained that the EU provided funding for the project through its Civil Society Organisations’ contribution to citizen security in Jamaica.

“This project is not a stand-alone initiative. It is part of a larger EU intervention, a partnership within the European Union in Jamaica called Support to Citizen Security in Jamaica, a programme of €20 million, that is over J$3 billion,” Lo Conte stated.

Director of Projects and Strategic Management at MYF, Mitzian Turner, explained how the MYF goes about identifying persons who need their intervention.

“We do screening and assessment by using the Citizen Security and Justice Programme tool. We go into the various communities, we liaise with the members, groups and community development centres, and derive our risk profile of the participants,” Turner added.

She said based on the risk profile, the MYF partners will develop activities around those who are deemed medium to high risk.

Youth are placed on a path to be reintegrated into school, and for the older participants, internships are given that lead to gainful employment.

“So far, we have seen a real turnaround in the participants. We see students improving academically and no longer displaying disruptive behaviours,” said Turner.

Persons can reach out to the MultiCare Youth Foundation by contacting them at 876-922-6670, or visiting their offices at 7-9 Harbour Street in downtown Kingston.