Rise Life launches app to enhance civil society capacity Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) has partnered with RISE Life Mamagement Services on phase three of the Civil Society Boost Initiative (CSBI) for the support and design of a mobile app, UNUH, to encourage civic engagement among youth. 

The app, created by Limitless Transformation Coaching and Training Services Limited, is designed to engage youth, ages 13 to18, using real-world scenarios and activities that incorporate Jamaican culture, to provide them with opportunities to improve their decision-making skills.

The platform combines interactive learning with fun challenges that teach valuable life lessons, allowing teens to embark on a journey of self-improvement and growth. With a diverse range of modules and engaging activities, users can customise their experience while earning tokens and completing challenges. The app also fosters a supportive environment, where users can share their progress and connect with peers.

Charles Clayton, Programme Director at PIOJ emphasised the importance of finding creative ways to engage youth, stating, “the app offers an opportunity for youth who may not be interested in the traditional way of learning to participate fully in what they are doing.”

“This is a very important step in the direction we want to go as we want to find solutions that will engage our youth who are not engaged. We therefore consider today’s launch of the app a landmark moment. We hope this will trigger other types of activities that will support the engagement of our youth,” he added.

Elizabeth Terry (centre), Founder and CEO of Limitless Transformation Coaching and Training Services Limited (centre) joins a group photo with students from the St Andrew’s High School for Girls during the recent CSB1 3 launch ceremony.

Concurrently, civil society is set to benefit from further strengthening through RISE Life Management Services’ latest phase of the CSBI, which is strategically aimed at enhancing the capacity of civil society organisations (CSOs) in Jamaica. 

This third phase of the initiative was launched in March at the Summit House in Kingston.

It will spotlight inclusion through the training of CSOs in disability in development to ensure the needs of persons with disabilities are considered in project planning and implementation; and through the implementation of a year-long pilot for maroon youths modelled on a curriculum designed for indigenous youth populations.

Speaking at the launch, Nadine Chambers Goss, Executive Director of RISE Life Management Services, highlighted the importance of these components in strengthening the ability of CSOs to play a vital role in national development.

“CSOs fill development gaps that neither the government nor the private sector can comprehensively address. We must become more deliberate in our efforts to capture and reflect how our work aligns with and supports national and international development goals. This will help us to better communicate the tangible value and impact we deliver.”

The European Union-funded initiative is also aligned with Vision 2030 Jamaica and the broader Sustainable Development Goals.

Marianne Van Steen, European Union Ambassador to Jamaica, Belize, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cayman Islands, shared similar views, underscoring the importance of civil society’s role in complementing government efforts and providing a voice for marginalised communities.

“The European Union is convinced that civil society and everything that you do is key to democracy. It is key to the respect of the rule of law and human rights. However, I think a vibrant civil society is not only about being critical of what the government does but it is also about complementing its efforts. Of course, criticism is important, but it is also very important to come in exactly where the government may not be able to do all it should or it wishes to do.”

The Civil Society Boost Initiative will play an integral role in empowering CSOs to operate more efficiently and allowing them to improve their ability to uphold and promote enabling environments for the vulnerable populations that they serve.

There is a noticeable increase in the number of entities participating, with 52 CSOs targeted. This number includes 27 from previous rounds and 25 new entrants, including 10 youth-led CSOs.

CSBI was first implemented in 2016, with phase two done in 2019. Phase three introduces new training components focusing on areas such as advocacy for government accountability and increasing CSO involvement in the making of effective public policy. The project will also include a study on the impact of COVID-19 on CSOs so the sector can be better prepared for future global shocks.

Meanwhile, guest speaker at the event, Dr Clover Hamilton-Flowers, Deputy Chief Education Officer (Acting), Curriculum and Support Services Division at the Ministry of Education and Youth, highlighted the importance of using technology as a means of transforming education.

“The Ministry of Education and Youth (MOEY) is committed to transforming what education is about, going beyond reimagining what the classroom looks like to effect deep-seated change. Today’s launch of the life-skills mobile app, is connected to a critical pillar of our transformation efforts focused on innovative curriculum and teaching.”

Dr Hamilton-Flowers also thanked RISE and the European Union for their continued support to the MOEY. “Our ministry wants to recognise today the tremendous role that RISE Life Management Services has been playing in partnering with us to achieve many of our goals through the various initiatives on which we have collaborated to reach our young people.”

She closed by saying that all the partners involved with the project were “intentionally placed to be a part of the change process.”