Canada funds grass-roots initiatives
Five non-profit organisations geared at transforming at-risk members of the society into law-abiding and progressive citizens have received the financial backing of the Canadian High Commission.
Advocates for Change, the Peace Management Initiative, the Institute of Law and Economics, the National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica, and the Jamaica Boxing Board shared CDN$106,000 to boost a range of life-changing programmes.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Eron Samuels, in collaboration with the Jamaica Boxing Board, helps to run the Guns for Gloves programme, an initiative that introduces boxing to young people in western Jamaica as a tool to impart the values of discipline and teamwork.
Samuels truly believes the programme’s impact could have a ripple effect across society if it is expanded islandwide.
“Based on the attributes that boxing promotes in terms of the training aspect, the discipline, integrity and persons working together as a team, it fell right into what we were trying to promote,” said Samuels.
Samuels pointed to one instance when a student of Denham Town High School, located in a gritty, crime-plagued section of Kingston, was regularly involved in fights and was subject to suspensions on several occasions.
According to the cop, his behaviour has been modified since he came under the wings of the Jamaica Boxing Board.
“He found out his hands were weapons and he could get in trouble with them. Before, he used to follow friends to do odd things. He began focusing more on developing himself as a boxer. He was at training every day and he is representing his country now. That is a big thing for him,” he revealed.
Samuels urged Jamaicans not to view boxing as merely an aggressive sport, but to realise that it had great scope in building individual and community spirit, as well as being bona fide economic activity.
He called for greater private-sector support for the programme and similar initiatives.
“The intention of the Gloves over Guns programme is to have some level of support for it, and this can only be done with the support from the private sector,” said Samuels.
The National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica will use its share of funds to establish a music centre for girls in Kingston and St Andrew, while the Peace Management Initiative will build the capacity of women in St Catherine to be anti-violence advocates.
The Institute of Law and Economics will support the gender responsiveness of case managers to support socio-economic reintegration of young girls and women leaving correctional institutions, while Advocates for Change will help young fathers through the Developing Able Dads project.
Canadian high commissioner to Jamaica Laurie Peters said that she was hopeful that the funding would favourably impact the various target groups.
“The funding we put up is not a huge amount of money, but it is important seed funding for these non-governmental organisations. What an impressive group we have assembled here today, to look at everything from using music and sports, to addressing violence in communities, reintegrating young women who have previously been incarcerated, and also looking at the importance of dads in building a healthy family and building a healthy community,” said Peters.