Talk Up Yout's latest project, “Youth Empowerment through Dialogue” got its kickstart last weekend in Montego Bay, St James. This initiative, funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund, seeks to engage, and empower Jamaica's youth (ages 14-24) providing a platform for them to be educated about their rights, communicate the issues affecting them and demand accountability from their representatives.
The project will be carried out through a series of workshops and town halls which will span the fourteen parishes and allow young persons to directly address their elected representatives and officials.
Friday's workshop at the Cornwall College Chapel saw to the education of thirty-four youths on their rights, how the government works, the roles of various elected officials and the Jamaican Constitution which was executed by Professor Rosalea Hamilton of the National Integrity Commission. Conrad Mathison, Managing Director of Its Pixel Perfect also delivered a presentation on social media advocacy which was well received by participants. The day also saw Sujae Boswell, the Commonwealth Youth Ambassador and Emprezz Golding, Talk Up Yout’s founder encouraging participants to seek education, seize opportunities and always speak on their own behalf.
Saturday's Town hall was hosted by Emprezz Golding and Giovanni Dennis at the Montego Bay Civic Center.
The town hall gave the young persons who had attended the workshop an opportunity to ask their representatives questions directly. In attendance was Member of Parliament for North West St. James and Minister without Portfolio Dr Horace Chang, PNP Chairperson/Caretaker Ashley-Ann Foster, T’Shura Gibbs, Jamaica Public Service Company Director for West Jamaica, Senator Pearnel Charles Jr state minister in the Ministry of National Security, Member of Parliament for St James Central Heroy Clarke, and Mayor of Montego Bay Homer Davis.
The topics discussed included youth employment, housing for the mentally ill, disabled and abused, reducing political tension, part-time job creation for tertiary students, the cost of tertiary education, civic pride, and funding for the Student Loan Bureau.
The initiative has already shown positive results as youth advocate Dominique Stone had publicly requested Chang’s support and he served as a guest at her church in Salt Spring, St. James the following day to discuss advocacy and representation.