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Youth group opens centre in former drug den in North Hamilton

Resource type: News

The Royal Gazette | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]


A building once used for illicit activity has been completely transformed by a grassroots organisation that provides free assistance to entrepreneurs.

Youth on the Move (YOM) was founded on the principle that the ability to achieve something positive, is within everyone’s reach.

It’s a message the group continues to spread, providing key business advice and offering support to persons between the ages of 21 and 38 in areas such as education and personal development.

The charity is now looking for outside funding. Members believe an annual donation of $750,000 for the next three to five years would help ensure they meet community need.

Said board member Yosafe Smith: “What we have accomplished so far we have accomplished on our own.

“We did receive funding from Government, and used the money wisely, however we need more funding.

“With proper staffing, we believe we can change this community around we just need someone to believe in us.”

Added another board member, Chae Powell: “We are reaching out to Government and exempt companies to help us out.

“Everyone talks about wanting a better community, well we are asking them to put their money where their mouth is. I guarantee we can turn this community around.”

YOM was meeting in hotel lounges and informal public spaces until the opportunity arose to buy a building in North Hamilton, on Elliott Street.

“We are right in the heart of those that need our assistance, and we are respected here for what we are doing,” said YOM president Carlton Simmons.

“Drugs were being sold from this same building, drug use and all sorts of things used to happen outside this building. Since we’ve been here no one has disrespected us. There is no loitering, there is no graffiti or anything like that going on outside the building.”

The organisation was started two years ago, in February 2006.

According to Mr. Simmons the North Hamilton location enables them to reach out to the community in ways that other entities with similar goals cannot.

“We feel we have the solution to reaching this community,” he said. “We are able to go out and talk to the people, they don’t feel threatened by us and they will talk to us,” he said.

Among its successes YOM counts its ability to organise several meetings with former Premier Alex Scott and young adults on the Island and on the issues of sustainable development and race relations.

Its members have also worked with Government’s Mirrors Programme and the Ace Group of Companies to identify career choices.

YOM is currently offering a 12-week course which teaches basic administrative skills.

Said Mr. Simmons: “The response from those interested in the course was overwhelming. We received 30 applicants but we only had room for six people so we are planning on starting another course soon.”

He added: “The programme teaches things such as the fundamental relationship between employee and employer, intro to computers, basic math, introduction to Microsoft Office and punctuation and grammar.

“The instructor is an excellent teacher and the course does not take anything for granted. It assumes that the student knows nothing, which means she takes you from beginning to end so you fully understand.”

A basic pre-test is given to applicants to ensure they are all at similar levels.

Applicants must score at least 75 percent to participate. Those whose scores are not high enough are referred to outside agencies for assistance.

BTC IT worker Leon Cumberbatch said: “I was looking for a change in career.

“This course teaches you business administration skills, which would help me advance in my own job and possibly move on to other positions. I’m just trying to keep my options open.”

Asked why YOM decided to offer the course, Mr. Simmons said: “We have searched the Island and there are no programmes like this.

“When a student drops out of high school at age 16 or 17, when they are 23 and want to get back into the game, there is nowhere for that. “That’s why were here. We feel our programme is useful and needed.”

For more information visit or call 535-9662.

Youth on the Move is an Atlantic grantee. 

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