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SDC Targets Young People In St. James
KINGSTON (JIS) -- An initiative to help in the fight against crime has been developed by the Social Development Commission (SDC), targeting young people in St James and Trelawny. The project is called the ‘High School Poster and Product Development Competition’ and is being executed through the SDC’s Local Economic Development and Support Programme (LEDSP), which is primarily aimed at promoting and supporting the development of wealth creation by encouraging micro-entrepreneurship. Now in its second year, the project is carried out across two parishes – St. James and Trelawny. The criteria for entry in the competition are sent to schools in the two parishes, and those interested respond expressing a desire to participate. They then put their ideas on canvas, expressing a business idea in a poster format. This can be developed into an economic activity to generate income.
Local Economic Development Coordinator for St. James and Trelawny with the SDC, Deroux Jones, explained that the SDC recognises that at the community level, there is a need for wealth creation and social protection interventions, which are directly linked to the need for greater microenterprises.
There was also a major problem identified where many school-leaving young people were becoming involved in the illegal lottery-scamming activity.
“So, we decided to introduce entrepreneurship as an alternative to mitigate against them being lured into scamming activities. We targeted the high schools to introduce the poster and essay competitions,” he told JIS News.
Mr. Jones notes that the first year of the competition was very encouraging, so this year, they added another component that would increase the effectiveness of the campaign.
“Now, in the second year, we are looking to direct them [school children] towards products that, when they leave school, they can have a tangible enterprise that can get support from the community,” he said.
“So, we really want to set up something that can compete [with the illegal activity] for the youth who might not have the best academic outcome, but can engage in an economic/entrepreneurial activity as an alternative,” Mr. Jones says.
He adds that the programme has been met with significant success and that many schools are now involved.
This year, he says, schools have moved on from just ‘poster and essay’ and have now fully embraced the economic component where products are being developed.
“So, we have one school coming up with a nutraceutical product, one with a cosmetic product, another with an innovative bulla cake product. One school has even gone ahead and developed an economic product, just so they can enter the competition. That’s where we see it going in terms of getting the schools involved or thinking about entrepreneurship,” he tells JIS News.
Mr. Jones says the police welcome the initiative, so too the business community in St. James and Trelawny.
“From the schools’ perspective, the business teachers are enthused about it. From the students’ side they are excited and enthused about where their potential can carry them, how a simple idea can be made into a tangible product and make an income for the school or for themselves,” he notes.
Mr. Jones says community members are now able to see how they can utilise things they see every day, which they can convert and make money.
“We have one community organisation by Irwin that is using a certain bush and making it into soap and is generating income,” he adds.
“The community has bought in, the youngsters have bought in and the Jamaica Constabulary Force has bought in to the idea, as it is a legitimate means of wealth creation and social protection,” Mr. Jones tells JIS News.