Thu | Sep 28, 2023

EU looking to help elevate Kingston communities with inaugural 5K

Published:Saturday | January 14, 2023 | 12:44 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
European Union) Ambassador to Jamaica Marianne Van Steen.
European Union) Ambassador to Jamaica Marianne Van Steen.

European Union (EU) Ambassador to Jamaica Marianne Van Steen and Running Events Managing Director Alfred Francis say that they are confident that the inaugural European Union-Jamaica 5K will help to improve the social fabric of the country as well as elevate and support the communities of downtown Kingston.

The pair were speaking at Thursday’s launch of the event which is scheduled for March 12 starting at 6:30 a.m. The course encompasses the downtown area starting at the corner of Port Royal Street and George’s Lane. Held under the theme ‘All Together Against Crime and Violence’, it is intended to display the EU’s support for Jamaica’s Citizen Security Programme.

Van Steen said that it was important that at-risk communities be the main focus of the road race.

“We have to reach out to the people. We are happy with the cooperation we have with the Government. But in the end, if you start thinking about it, you need to get people on board. You need to get bottom up and top down. And I think that this is one of the first initiatives that I would really like to flagship to include people that we are targeting this year,” Van Steen told The Gleaner. “We all know it (crime) starts very often in vulnerable communities and it is the kind of people you do not necessarily reach always. So we want to make sure that we reach out to those people and we have to look at what makes Jamaica, Jamaica.”

Van Steen said that they are looking to attract 2,000 patrons for the event, many of them from the surrounding communities of downtown Kingston. For her, it was also important that the potential of the area is highlighted long term as well as to help those communities who may find it difficult to afford the $2,000 contribution.

“I am very much enthusiastic about trying to make a little change. It’s not going to be the European Union making the change, it’s the people of Jamaica, it’s downtown Kingston. But you need to give a little incentive, a little push and we are doing that now with the race but we have been doing that in many of our other projects,” Van Steen said. “I want to make sure that people who cannot afford to be in the race but want to be in the race, find a formula. The idea would be to get those people more involved because they are the objective of the race.”

Francis said that the partnership was a no-brainer in the constant fight against crime but to show the potential of downtown where their headquarters is based.

“We believe in the cause of preventing violence. We believe in the cause of good mental and physical health. And we are happy that we are able to bring people into the space downtown to let them see Kingston and all its glory. Because a lot of people had a lot of phobias about downtown. But it has transformed to be highly cultural where artwork is concerned and there is that great legacy of wonderful buildings and so on that has a history that people need to come and experience,” Francis said.

Registration for the race closes on March 3 and can be done online at