Working Together to Get Young People Online

20/11/2020 – Left behind in the digital divide, students in Kingston, Jamaica can’t continue their education while COVID-19 forces schools to remain closed.

Two Community Based Organizations (CBOs) in the UP Unity & Peace programme, which is coordinated by Fight for Peace, have received grants to help their communities in these difficult times. Funding for the community grants was provided by the Inter-American Foundation (IAF).

Specifically, the funding aims to strengthen community-based organisations’ ability to design and implement collaborative programmes to help community members in the long term. It also aims to ensure that the voices of women and young people are included in the process.

In the Parade Gardens community, the Community Development Committee (CDC) and the Police Youth Club are collaborating to run a homework help programme for young people. Funds will be used to purchase 20 tablets for the community centre, and pay Community Development Committee (CDC) members to help guide youth and adhere to safety protocols.

“From when this pandemic happened we learned more about our community – that a lot of households have just one phone, owned by the parent who couldn’t give the child to use all day; and we found there was no internet access, no tablets,” says Alphanso Spencer UP Unity & Peace Community Coordinator for the area.

What Alphanso and community members want to achieve is to raise attendance from 12-15 young people in online classes to 25 young people using technology at a session at the community centre – under social distancing conditions.

For Alpanso, creating the proposal was a labour of love:

“We began with a survey, visiting 20 households on each road – totaling about 150 families and of those we learned only about five to seven households had internet, as well as other households who shared their WiFi. But of course the sharing was leading to slow internet for everyone, so it was a bad situation all around.”

But it is in bad situations when communities can be at their strongest, collectively.

“The Inspector of Police for the area, when she heard what we were doing, promised to donate 10 tablets to the community,” adds Alphanso. “We already have 10 computers at the community centre, and want to use the grant to buy 20 tablets; and the grant funds would also pay supervisors to guide kids in the community centre and help maintain COVID-19 protocols.”

This is a benefit community members are looking forward to, “If they have the tablets at the centre, (young people) would have somewhere to get their work done, and be off the road,” nods Calmalee Crossbourn, one of the active parents in the UP Unity & Peace parenting programme. Ms Crossbourn’s children attended taekwondo sessions under the programme prior to the pandemic.

Through the UP Unity & Peace programme, Fight for Peace works with young people across six communities. This is done via a collective approach which brings the best organisations and professionals together under one unifying mission – to support young people to achieve their full potential.

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