GLEANER: More than 15 schools and citizens living in volatile and vulnerable communities are to benefit from the Ministry of National Security’s ‘I Am Purpose’ campaign.
The campaign, which started in September 2018, focuses on the value of self-worth, self-empowerment, parent and child interaction, volunteerism and community participation.
Communities in St Catherine, Clarendon, St James, and Kingston and St Andrew are being targeted under the year- long initiative.
Acting director of crime prevention and community safety in the ministry, Renee Steele, said the campaign forms part of the Five Pillar Crime-Reduction Strategy, with emphasis on crime prevention through social development.
“The purpose of this pillar is to identify the risk factors of a socio-economic nature that contribute to violent behaviours and attitudes, and help to reduce them through activities such as this campaign,” Steele said.
Statistics indicate that young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are involved in a significant number of violent crimes.
“We have found, in many cases, that we have youth as young as nine involved in criminal activities. They may not pull a trigger, but they are impressionable and not attached to any positive systems, and hence can be recruited by criminal elements,” Steele said.
“The campaign is important because it is a deliberate effort to take the positives to the source themselves. As children develop, they tend to depend more on their peers, so the peers become more influential; so we go to them in their space,” she added.
The initiative include the I Am Purpose school tour, which is implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information; a concert, as well as a men’s reasoning session. There is also a parent-student sports day, and peer-to-peer mentorship for the targeted schools.
So far, some seven schools have benefited under the campaign. These include Vere Technical High, Bustamante High, Denbigh High, St James High, Kemps Hill High, Spot Valley High, and Glendevon Primary and Junior High schools.
“We use edutainment to promote the positive messaging, and you get to engage with students one on one. Following the campaign, we will establish a peer-to-peer mentorship programme within the schools, where we will be aiming to use students from the upper grades to work with students from the lower grades as a means of positive role models,” Steele explained.
For the community-based activities, the security ministry works with several stakeholders such as community development committees, as well as gospel artiste Rondell Positive, to engage individuals from at-risk feeder communities in which the targeted schools are located.
CAPTION: Students at Glendevon Primary and Junior High in Montego Bay, St James, enjoy a performance from DJ Chinny during the ‘I Am Purpose’ concert, held at the institution in 2018.