Over 110 young people from the communities of Parade Gardens, Denham Town and Trench Town in Kingston, Jamaica have been participating in a Fighting Words Book Club, which began in 2017, and came to an end this August.

The book club gave young people aged 7-18 living within these communities support to recreational and educational reading activities, including access to books, field trips and visits from local authors.

Young participants from Kingston, Jamaica recently made visits to the statue garden at the University of the West Indies (UTECH), as well as the Hope Zoo in Kingston. The trips were intended to increase participants’ exposure, provide them with the opportunity to learn more about the places described in books they have read, and in turn showcase their writing skills through creating new tales about what they have learned.

The group also welcomed local authors, illustrators and publishers to join sessions in order to give participants insight into the range of paths they can take, while sharing knowledge and inspiring the young people through sharing their own work and opening up a space for discussion and conversation in order to bring to life new ideas. 

Jamaican writer, filmmaker, publisher and creative consultant, Tanya Bastson-Savage who recently visited the Fighting Words Book Club shared her thoughts on why spaces like this are so important for young people:

“Reading to children is always a special joy for me. And I found reading to the Fighting Words Book Club at Fight For Peace particularly rewarding. They were bright and curious and engaged.”

“In my view this is the greatest value that book clubs can bring; creating safe spaces where children can engage with words, with authors, with ideas – where they ultimately learn about themselves as they delve into the experiences of those they read about,” Tanya continued.

As one of UP Unity & Peace’s longest running programmes, it was a pleasure to hear some of the books club’s members speaking about the impact it has had on their growth and future ambitions.

“I believe that this book club was a good idea. In my community there aren’t a lot of ways the youth can go and read, express themselves and have good virtues to portray to one another. It helped me to be more confident in my speech and writing and I wish it would continue,” shared one of the participants.

While another young person explained, “not only did book club give me a confidence boost, it gave me the opportunity to leave my community and explore the different areas I am interested in. I also made new connections. I got the chance to freely express myself.” 

It goes without saying that the Book Club has been instrumental in opening up the minds of young people about the possibilities and opportunities that exist beyond their community, and we look forward to delivering more programmes which strengthen and improve the educational outcomes for young people in the communities in which UP Unity & Peace operates. 

We would like to extend huge thanks and gratitude to the American Friends of Jamaica (AFJ) for their kindness and generosity in funding the UP Unity & Peace Fighting Words programme over the years. 

UP Unity & Peace is a Collective coordinated by Fight for Peace which brings together NGOs, sports federations and state partners to jointly deliver programmes to young people in communities in Jamaica at high risk of violence.

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