We know that sport, combined with personal development and mentoring has the ability to transform lives and inspire young people to reach their full potential. The Fight for Peace  UP Unity and Peace team in Kingston, Jamaica is playing a huge part in doing just that in a recent project, LinkUp II.

As a follow up to the previous EU- funded project, LinkUp, LinkUp II began in January this year and gives young people in Parade Gardens and Denham Town, Jamaica after-school, academic and behavioural support interventions. Young people are offered free taekwondo, boxing and football sessions, as well as access to psycho-social support, personal development sessions and various other training opportunities and activities.

Recently, the UP Unity & Peace team caught up with four young men participating in the programme to find out about some of the ways they have been seeing the power of sport unfold in their lives.

21-year-old participant in the Link Up II programme, Jaheim has been a part of the boxing cohort since he was 16 and says that it has helped him improve his discipline, punctuality, and self belief. 

“My parents would say the best part of me being in the programme would be that I’ve been motivated and I have something that occupies my time,” Jaheim shared. 

While 16-year-old Tristan agreed, expressing that there are three things in particular the programme has helped him to improve, including his anger issues, social skills and self discipline. He goes on to say, “I think the most important part for me is time management.”

Similar experiences are often echoed by other members of the programme, says Mark Cole, Programme Coordinator at UP Unity and Peace.

“Sport helps to build resilience by teaching young people new skills and giving them the opportunity to keep learning despite the challenges. It also instils discipline, and encourages them to face their fears, as well as develop physical and emotional control,” Mark explained. 

“I’ve seen that in our participants. The more time they spend in the programme, the more we see their improvement. It increases their confidence, improves their physical fitness and their ability to bounce back from adversity,” he continued.

In addition to working on themselves, young people in the programme also become motivators for their peers, such as 16 year old Steve who told the team that “commitment is key, as well as self discipline.” While Giovanni said, “keep yourself focused and don’t let anything distract you. Always follow your goals.”

It’s always a pleasure to see the development and growth of the young people who engage in our services, and we take great pride in ensuring that we continue to deliver the best support possible to young people in our communities to ensure they are able to thrive within positive environments as they build their futures.

UP Unity & Peace is a Collective coordinated by Fight for Peace, bringing together NGOs, sports federations and state partners to jointly deliver programmes to young people in communities in Jamaica at high risk of violence. Programmes are based on the Fight for Peace approach, integrating boxing and martial arts, education, youth leadership, employability and support services. 

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