'U-Report' Tool for Youth Engagement Takes Off in Jamaica

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Today, Jamaica became the first country in the Caribbean to launch "U-Report" - a free social messaging tool being used globally by over five million youth to speak out on issues affecting them.

U-Report, pioneered by UNICEF, provides a platform for Jamaican youth from any community to add their voice to matters of national importance.

The initiative targets young people between the ages of 13 to 29, who can sign up to be U-Reporters via Facebook and Twitter. FLOW has partnered with UNICEF to allow youth to sign up via SMS text messaging - at no cost to FLOW users.

"We are pleased to partner on this groundbreaking initiative through the provision of a short code and free SMS to FLOW customers," saidExecutive Chairman at the FLOW Foundation, Errol Miller.

"It is our hope that by giving young people a voice, they can take their place in society as agents of change," added Miller.

Once registered, U-Reporters are sent polls on a regular basis - on a wide range of issues including crime and violence, health and education.

The results are collected in real-time. Data will be shared with government officials, key decision-makers, civil society organisations and the public in a bid to influence policies, programmes and laws that concern children and youth.

U-Report is youth-led and fosters genuine youth participation. It is managed by a National Coordinator who is 25 years old, and steered by a group of young people from an array of youth-focused organisations.

Poll topics can be suggested by any organisation. Poll questions are reviewed and approved by the youth steering committee.

"U-Report gives policy makers unprecedented access to youth views and opinions on pressing matters, and that is revolutionary," said Camilla Parris-Campbell, a member of the youth steering committee.

"U-Report promises to take Jamaica in an exciting new direction for youth engagement and participation," said UNICEF Jamaica Representative, Mark Connolly who spoke at the launch event.





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