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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May 2, 2014
Youth, ages 14 - 26, from all over the world, talking up. #TalkUpYout