USAID Gives At-Risk Youth a Lifeline Through Sport | Main stories


Brian Turner, 31, believes it was a stipend offered for his participation in the USAID-sponsored A Ganar program in 2012 that saved him, then an at-risk youth in an inner-city community, from a life of crime.

He believes that more programs of a similar nature could also propel other marginalized young people to a brighter future.

The A Ganar program Turner was enrolled in a decade ago targeted at-risk youth in the Allman Town and Fletcher’s Land areas of downtown Kingston, using sporting activities such as football, cricket and athletics.

“They offered a stipend. They offered to pay to go to school. When the school pays you to come to school, it’s a great initiative. It takes kids out into the streets and teaches them to save and collect as much as they can, Turner said. the gleaner.

“Mi wouldn’t inna di position mi right now. I’m really honest, that beginning is where it all started,” he said of the initiative that gave him hope.

A Ganar – a Spanish term that translates to “win or win” – taught him and other youngsters basic sports skills.

“Sport is really a key factor in changing the mindset of a young man. I’ve been through a lot and where I’m from is [an accomplishment] be [heading in a certain] direction,” Turner said. the gleaner.

“I lived in a garrison [with] a lot of commotion. So to keep our feet on the ground, football is key to changing the mindset of young people and moving forward. As a coach, you can learn to prepare children and teach them to do the right things. If you want to win, you have to win. You want to lose, you have to play to lose,” he said.

“I really appreciate USAID. I never even knew [where] I would be at this point. In the future I know something in the back of my head [saying] that I’m not supposed to stop. It’s just the core,” he added.

Turner now works in the Ministry of Finance and the Civil Service.

He also has an online store – @japopupshop on social media site Instagram – which sells a variety of colognes.

His advice to other young people living in a situation similar to the one he has experienced in the past? “Do the right thing now. Let go of wasted time and do what it takes – whatever you think is right – to get to the best place.

It’s young people like Turner that USAID is once again aiming to reach through its Positive Pathways Sport for Development (S4D) grant. This initiative was launched at the Usain Bolt track at the University of the West Indies, Mona, on April 6, which has been globally recognized as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.

“Sport is not just a way to bring young people together and have fun. Sport can be used intentionally to promote the development of life skills and critical thinking, for workforce development, to promote peace, to prevent HIV/AIDS and… to promote development youth and violence prevention,” said Alex Gainer. , USAID Jamaica’s Acting Country Representative.

“We are pleased to announce that USAID is investing $44.2 million ($285,000) in activities that intentionally use sports as a tool for youth development and violence prevention,” he said. added.

Gainer explained that these grants will directly benefit more than 700 at-risk Jamaican youth and 100 parents or caregivers in 10 violence-prone communities in the parishes of Kingston, St Andrew, St Catherine, Clarendon and St James.

The grants will also facilitate the training of over 100 coaches and leaders/facilitators on the intentional use of sport for violence prevention in the same communities.

According to Andre Wilson, Executive Director of the Youth-For-Development Network (YFDN), one of USAID’s grantees, “With support from USAID, YFDN has reached more than 3,000 vulnerable youth across the country. island using the power of sport as a tool for development and common development”. connection and learning language. This new award is timely as it will help us collectively measure the use of sport to promote peace and prevent violence in Jamaica.

Another beneficiary is Project Gold, which is led by executive director and former Sunshine Girls captain Simone Forbes.

According to Forbes, his entity’s interventions with vulnerable youth reveal the need for positive role models, guidance and supervision, and adequate recreational facilities to promote teamwork, social skills and personal development.

“We thank USAID for their support, which is welcome as it provides the Project Gold team with the opportunity to continue using sport for development in communities with our youth,” Forbes said.

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