Scores of young persons who gathered in Montego Bay St James on the weekend were empowered to become the change in their communities as they spoke directly, most for the first time, with their political representatives.
34 of the 75 young persons aged 14-24, who gathered at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre on Saturday April 22, 2017, for a TalkUpYout/ UNDEF ‘Youth Empowerment Through Dialogue’ town hall, were trained a day earlier on rights, governance and advocacy by the National Integrity Action and Talk Up Yout.
St James North West MP Dr Horace Chang and State Minister for National Security Pearnel Charles Jr, who arrived late due to weather, faced tough questions from the floor and in one on one session with the youth following the town hall.
But the majority of the concerns, including housing, education, care of mentally ill and abused, education, job creation and crime, were fielded by St James Central MP Heroy Clarke, Montego Bay Mayor Homer Davis, PNP Central St. James Chairman Ashley Ann Foster and Ms. Tshura Gibbs, Chamber of Commerce/ JPS.
They were then challenged to organize, advocate and share with their peers.
One participant, youth advocate Dominique Stone took up that challenge and invited her MP Dr Chang to attend the Salt Spring New Testament Church on Sunday April 23, where he spoke on governance and advocacy. She will also be starting her own advocacy group in Salt Spring.
Another outcome of the two day event was a resolution by Russell Barrett for the St James Parish Council to commit to holding two town halls each year with young persons.
While its argued that many young persons are not interested in participating in the political process, the two day TalkUpYout/ UNDEF Youth Empowerment Through Dialogue sessions highlighted that what young persons want are avenues for dialogue and the knowledge and skills to demand changes from open and responsive representatives.
St Elizabeth is the next stop in the series of town halls under this initiative.
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Talk Up Yout's #YoutFiChat Initiative interviews State Minister in the Ministry of Security - Senator Pearnel Charles Jr and Head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force's Corporate Communications Unit - Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, with questions from youth across Jamaica, on Talk Up Radio.
Kingston, March 18, 2017 - The Talk Up Radio Show by Talk UP Yout on NationWide 90 FM, recently hosted a “A Collaborative Conversation about Crime” which gave young people from all around the island an opportunity to ask the State Minister in the Ministry of National Security – Senator Pearnel Charles Jr and Head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Corporate Communications Unit – Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, questions about crime. As part of the Talk Up Yout #YoutFiChat Initiative that seeks to connect young people with the high-level stakeholders in youth issues, a general call for questions was posted on Talk Up Yout’s social media spaces which elicited close to 50 responses from the young people of Jamaica.
The core mission of Talk Up Yout has always been to create impactful conversations about issues that matter. In situations where silence and stigma thrive, direct and thought-provoking dialogue can go a far way in empowering young people to call out those who want to hurt them and connect with those who want to protect them. The Talk Up Yout “Youth Empowerment Through Dialogue in Jamaica” project will provide a platform for Jamaican youth aged 14-24 years to advocate for workable solutions for the issues affecting them, and demand accountability from local and national representatives elected to serve them through 14 town halls engaging 1400 youth directly interfacing with officials. At the heart of the project is a capacity strengthening component, which aims to train 350 youth advocates across the country. These advocates will mobilize their peers, generate consensus on priority issues and make representation to relevant elected public servants. Young people are encouraged to join by sending a message to Talk Up Yout’s Facebook Inbox titled #YoutFiChat
The questions Talk Up Yout received from youth across the island included asking if suggested solutions to crime are feasible, attempts to hold the government accountable for perceived corruption, requesting clarification about police and legal policy and questions about individual experiences young people have encountered.
Senator Charles and Superintendent Lindsay answered all the questions they were asked, even those they acknowledged were hard questions which might require more time to properly contextualize in order to find a good answer. Furthermore they spoke about other avenues for young people to let their voices be heard such as making submissions to parliament or engaging the State Minister directly on social media. They are also committed to sitting down with young people for a similar but longer conversation where more questions can be facilitated.
The Talk Up Yout Ambassadors who hosted the programme and asked the questions on the behalf of their peers all expressed satisfaction with the responses of the Senator Charles and Superintendent Lindsay, and thanked them for treating every question as important, noting that they even answered questions that are matters of public knowledge that could have been answered by anyone. This they believe demonstrates an appreciation on the part of Senator Charles and Superintendent Lindsay - of the fact that young people do not always know where to find the answers that everyone else thinks are so obvious.
Key information was disseminated, such as the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s WhatsApp (564 6840) line setup specifically for people to send video and audio evidence they receive via the social media app to the JCF instead of spreading it to their contacts and breaking the law. Senator Charles and Superintendent Lindsay also clarified their roles, explaining the work they do to serve Jamaica’s young people.
At the end of the broadcast, the consensus in the studio was that something ground-breaking had just taken place and everyone felt it was important for initiatives like this to continue to happen. Young people who heard their questions asked sent in thank you messages to Senator Charles and Superintendent Lindsay for answering and to Talk Up Radio for bridging the gap between the Jamaican youth and the people in positions of power. Talk Up Yout’s “Youth Empowerment Through Dialogue in Jamaica” #YoutFiChat initiative will keep these critical conversations alive, and connect thousands of young people in a similar fashion as the project rolls out across the island later this year.
Some of the questions asked by young people included:
Talk Up Radio is broadcast on Nationwide 90 FM, every Saturday morning, 10 am to 12 pm – A Talk Up Yout Initiative “Giving the Youth a Voice”.
For more information on the Talk Up Yout: ‘Youth Empowerment Through Dialogue” dubbed “#YoutFiChat” initiative funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund go to:
BE BOLD FOR CHANGE
Youth, ages 14 - 26, from all over the world, talking up. #TalkUpYout