The Youth Ministries department of the Central Jamaica Conference partnered with Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to host a two-week Youth Empowerment and Mentorship Summer Camp from July 8- 20, 2019 at Camp Verley Spring Gardens, St.Catherine, under the theme "Empowering Young Minds Changing Lives- IPAD for life."
Over 200 young people, from the parishes of Manchester, Clarendon, St. Elizabeth, St. Thomas, St. Andrew and St.Catherine and a State run Boys Home attended the camp and benefited from various empowerment sessions.
Justin, a male student, says consequent on his participation, he has developed an appreciation for himself and a new-found love for God.
“I’ve learnt that God always gives second chances and that he has a purpose for all of us and that has changed my attitude so much,” he said.
Meanwhile, Richelle believes that Camp Verley was a God sent gift and a beacon of hope for her as well as her peers.
“It has been a hard time for me as well as my peers but I have learnt that though you are tempted to do the wrong thing you can look back and redeem yourself. I believe that me and my peers will bounce back and be a great great gift to society,” she said.
According to Community Safety Officer Area 5 Headquarters, Inspector, Jacqueline Dillon The Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) Identity, Purpose, Attitude and Destiny (IPAD) for Life Youth Empowerment and Mentorship Summer Camp has been having a life-changing impact on participants.
She says the initial camp was held in 2015 and was hosted for the sixth time this year, with a new partner the Central Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and the continued partnership of the camp facilitators and counsellors from the JCF’s Community Safety and Security Branch, Corporate Communications Unit (CCU) and Mobile Reserve as well as participating schools.
Inspector Dillon explains that the initiative is designed to target children deemed vulnerable to negative influences with an aim to help them to build resilience against these factors and become rounded citizens.
“We want them to be able to identify good role models and gain respect for the law, the police and their peers, while ensuring that they were equipped with social and problem-solving skills that will assist them to build healthy relationships,” she stated.
The Inspector emphasized that IPAD for Life is not merely a summer camp for young people.
“The idea of this programme is to have residential camps, and after this we intend to have different phases that train the facilitators to ensure the continuity,” she states.
She says the camp is also about selflessness, friendship and ensuring that the participants understand the importance of deportment, personal hygiene as well as motivation to confidently take their place as productive and valued members of society.
Kevan Barnaby Youth Ministries Director, CJC was delighted to partner for such an initiative especially within the context that it has to do with youth.
“We held back nothing, we wanted to greatly impact the spiritual, mental, emotional and social needs of these youth,” he said.
“We sponsored the guest presenter Dr. Neals Chittan who is a crime reduction specialist, provided 8 professional counsellor for everyday counselling, led by Dr. Roy Dennis Family Life Director, CJC and Senior Youth leaders who connected with some of the youth and participated in the religious aspect of the camp,” said Barnaby.
Now that the camp has ended Barnaby celebrates the fact that he and his team were able to create a lasting impression on the minds of these young people as the biggest achievement.
“ I spoke with quite a number of the young people who have openly expressed that they have been impacted, to the point where they will desist from being rebellious and would now endeavour to adhere to good principles and morals , and use what they have learnt to impact their peers in the communities,” said Barnaby.
He encourages parents, school administrators and professionals, particularly the business community, to support the initiative.
To date JCF programme facilitators have been able to engage, approximately 20,000 persons from different schools using the IPAD for Life concept.