Clinton Pickering – Freelance Writer
Custos of St. James, Bishop Conrad Pitkin, has been putting words into action in fulfilment of his pledge to engage young people in an effort to turn around the lives of what he has classified as “deserving youths.”
Committed to the belief that “if we can engage our young people in positive activities, we will be able to minimize and cauterize the violence and crime we’ve been experiencing on our country,” Bishop Pitkin has spearheaded a ‘youth enrichment programme’ for hundreds of young people.
Supported by the Ministry of Education, over the past five weeks, the programme has kept over 400 young people off the streets of Montego Bay. Having actively engaged them, at 10:00 o’clock this morning, they will be presented with certificates of participation at a graduation ceremony at Faith Temple Assemblies of God Church.
“They will be assessed also and given certification from HEART in various skills which will equip them for the job market. Some will have an opportunity to go back to school to complete their education,” said Bishop Pitkin.
The initiative was disclosed at the 24th Annual General Meeting of the Association of Past Members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force Benevolent Society (Chapter One) at the Verney House Resort last Thursday. Bishop Pitkin, who was guest speaker, said, “Even though we’re at the fifth week, persons are still calling, knocking at our door because they have recognized that they didn’t make the best of the time they had before but now they want to do something.”
He told the ex-cops that opportunity was not just a once in a lifetime thing, but presented itself every day and “they could be a tremendous impact on our young people and our country today.”
Having commended the retired JCF officers for their service to country, Bishop Pitkin, called on them to continue serving as volunteers. “Ladies and gentlemen, your country needs you more than any other time in your service. I say that today because when you look around and you see what is happening, you have the prerequisite in your skills and your experience that can be used to enrich communities, not just in St James but across Jamaica,” he implored them.
He challenged them to plan activities among youth groups in their respective communities “so as to avoid or lessen crime and violence in these areas,” and they would experience immense satisfaction from knowing that they still could contribute to the safety and stability of their country.
Custos Pitkin suggested to them that, “You can be linked with persons and other particular organizations like HEART Trust NTA, National Youth Service, Jamaica Social Investment Fund, Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, ministries of government and other specific community organizations which can enhance the lives of our youths. Our young people need fathers and mothers who they may not have on the home that they can look up to.”