#Jamaica, November 9, 2017 – Kingston – A total of 530 children and staff at juvenile institutions across the island are to benefit from a series of health fairs being staged by the Ministry of National Security under its ‘We Transform’ initiative. The events, the first of which was held on Wednesday (Nov. 8) at the Metcalfe Street Secure Juvenile Remand Centre in Kingston, will run until January 2018. They are aimed at promoting healthy lifestyle habits.
Participants will benefit from health services including dental care, blood pressure checks, electrocardiogram (ECG) and cholesterol tests, eye screening and first aid presentation.
State Minister in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., who addressed the inaugural health fair and fun day, said the initiative includes life skills and healthy lifestyle training. Game arcades will also be set up.
Beneficiaries include 110 children and 100 staff at the Metcalfe Street Secure Juvenile Remand Centre, and 60 children and 60 staff members at South Camp Juvenile Remand and Correctional Centre in Kingston; 40 children and 60 staff members at Hill Top Juvenile Correctional Centre in St. Ann; and 50 children and 60 staff at the Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre in St. Catherine.
Senator Charles said this component of the ‘We Transform’ programme is expected to advance the general health of the participants within the institutions. He noted that there is a direct correlation between the involvement of the youth in crime and violence and having an unhealthy lifestyle.
“Abuse or misuse (of) substances such as drugs, alcohol, affects their behavior. It affects their decision-making and so therefore, a very important and significant part of our goals here is to train up and teach the children and staff the importance of a healthy lifestyle and the impact that has on creating a safe and secure Jamaica,” he said.
“We intend for children and staff to be equipped with the requisite knowledge and tools to abstain from the use of illicit drugs and unhealthy and inappropriate sexual practices. We also anticipate that specific institutions will have their staff trained and equipped with the skills for them to train the children in the area of sexual and reproductive health,” he noted.
Director, Health Promotion and Education, Ministry of Health, Takese Foga, welcomed the health fairs and expressed the hope that the offerings will be fully utilized by the participants.
Superintendent, Metcalfe Street Secure Juvenile Remand Centre, Karen Elliot, expressed gratitude for the ‘We Transform’ initiative, adding “it has been very beneficial to us.”
Implemented in 2016, the ‘We Transform’ youth empowerment and reintegration programme is geared at equipping children, ages 12 to 17 years, who are under the care and supervision of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), with the requisite skills set, character and support to become exemplary citizens.
The six pillars of the programme include: application of the learning by doing technique, mentorship and internship/job placement, an annual competition and exposition, promotion of a healthy lifestyle, parent engagement and training, and staff capacity building.