Racquel Simpson, Youthlink Writer
Know Your Rights!' This was the message which members of the Kingston Gardens Development Youth Club, along with members of their Police Youth Club, sought to get across to persons in adjoining downtown communities when they painted a mural illustrating various aspects of the topic on Central Avenue in Kingston Gardens.
The move, which became a reality in December 2010 after a $27.5-million injection of funds by the European Union (EU), forms part of an 18-month community upliftment and human-rights awareness project by Rise Life Management. The project, which is slated to be complete by the end of this month, is geared towards sensitising citizens, particularly young adults, about human rights.
According to Project Manager Maurice Roberts, "The mural represents the sustainability element of the initiative ... It is really to encourage people as they pass through the community to recognise that they have rights as human beings, as well as to inform others who didn't get the human rights training about some of these basic rights."
He explained that the mural is only one aspect of the awareness drive and that similar ones have been replicated in six other communities. "This is one element of the project and we have done this in six other communities such as Fletcher's Land, Drewsland, Tower Hill, Waterhouse, Cooreville Gardens and in Allman Town. There are several other components of the project which included a one-year GSAT class for the recent March exams for students who could not afford to pay for extra classes. We have also done literacy and numeracy training for some 50-odd children so that they could reach to the grade-nine levels and access a heart programme and be placed into colleges after passing the exams; which many of them have done. We have also done some training for expectant mothers between the ages 14 and 24. We have provided for them/equipped them with various parenting skills so that they can be better able to take care of their children," he informed Youthlink.
Project Manager Roberts also said he believes that the message has been received and has had a positive impact on the communities and its members through the number of meetings that have been held over the period.
"We have target workshops for the youngsters and 'clubbies', as well as some wide community meetings where we've had lawyers from Jamaica For Justice and the police addressing members. I believe that these moves have brought the community and the police closer together. They have made the citizens more aware of their rights and how to deal with the police. They are more informed as to where to turn if any of those rights are violated and what to do in order to protect those fundamental rights," he asserted.
One member of the Kingston Gardens Development Youth Club, Damion Lalor, was quick to point out that the project is beneficial to him and his peers as they are now better equipped to protect their rights.
"I believe that this project is a really good step because a lot of people have no clue as to what their human rights are. Now, with the information that has been passed on to us, we know what we can use to declare our rights as we are better equipped with the basic knowledge as citizens, and this mural is just one example which contains a list of some of the things we have rights to," the edified Lalor said.
The wall contains drawings which depict the right to a clean environment, health care, the right to an education and the right to feel secure. The project is in its final phase and is slated to be completed by the end of May.
It is projects like this one that bring a community together.