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‘Project GYAL’ is an advocacy, literacy and empowerment campaign aimed at reducing Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Jamaica. The program is set for implementation in four (4) parishes, namely Kingston & St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Clarendon and St. Thomas. Social media-based IPV education and advocacy campaigns are being conducted for the wider population in the four (4 parishes. Beneficiaries of the program are women and girls who have experienced GBV or are at risk, and the program seeks to empower them through training on literacy and numeracy skills, vocational skills, and entrepreneurship. There are also life skills support sessions focused on improving the understanding of the participating women to IPV and gender-based violence (GBV), identifying red flags and response strategies, and providing linkages to related health and legal services.
Phase 1, which was implemented in the parishes of St. Catherine and Kingston & St. Andrew, has been completed. Sixty (60) women participated in phase 1. Phase 2 will be implemented in the parishes of Clarendon and St. Thomas from July to September 2020.
MAN Amp'd Project (Male Awareness Now Amplified)
The MAN Amp’d project aims to impact, empower and resocialize vulnerable young men through targeted interventions and skills training.
The project seeks to provide 20 young men between the ages of 16 - 24 with the opportunity to develop their innate abilities, talents and current literacy and numeracy levels. The program has been engaging the participating young men four times per week, Monday through Thursday, at the Agency’s location at 8-10 Adelaide Street, Spanish Town. Sessions are multifaceted, with emphasis on sound engineering, music, life skills and remedial literacy and numeracy. The project is estimated to last six months with five months dedicated to instructional sessions and internship and one month for pre-production activities and a final culminating production.
The criteria for placement include declared interest, talents and availability. The Music Techniques group focuses on basic techniques (pitch, tone, pronunciation, enunciation, and rhythm) which are normally taken for granted and overlooked by up and coming artistes, DJs and singers. These skills will greatly increase the marketability of the participants and essentially their employability. The Sound Engineering group will focus on the technicality of how sound is amplified and manipulated. A common feature between both groups is the integration of up-to-date and innovative studio recording software which includes Audacity/Studio One, Virtual DJ and Fruity Loops Studio.
Importantly the project aims to transform men into employable members of society who are equipped to create and/or seize opportunities. In order to provide maximum impact the gentlemen will receive mentorship from men who are either working in the entertainment field and/or beneficiaries of targeted interventions facilitated by Children First. The selected men will be asked to share key lessons, learning points and success stories in a bid to positively motivate the target group. Participants who demonstrate key competencies in their skill area and successfully complete an internship at an approved agency (a total of 80 hours), will be awarded at an achievement ceremony. This culminating activity will positively highlight the project participants and provide an opportunity for them to demonstrate their talents and skills offered through the project.
The “Anti-Bullying Project" aims to build the capacity of key stakeholders and caregivers to identify and respond to bullying, and equip them as to how to reduce bullying in their environments.
The project is focused on providing skills and tools to support those affected or impacted by bullying within their various spheres.
Phase 1 of the project achieved the objectives through the implementation of the following activities:
An initial sensitization activity held at the Gaynstead High School in Kingston on September 16, 2019, in which approximately 500 students and 10 teachers participated.
One stakeholder sensitization session in St. Thomas, in which representatives from eleven (11) organizations participated
One stakeholder sensitization session for St. Catherine and Kingston & St. Andrew, in which representatives from sixteen (16) organizations participated
One (1) major residential session
The school session, facilitated by the Children First Bashy Bus Kru (BBK) team utilized various approaches, including:
Age appropriate conversations, discussions around the definitions and types of bullying, its effects on various age groups, interactive fun learning activities and games such as Hashtag and
Poster making, ‘Post it or Dump it’ and free styling dub poetry and DJ’s.
Edutainment presentations by the BBK team, which incorporated dub-poetry, music and other art-forms to examine the problem, effects and possible solutions in relation to bullying.
A panel discussion around the topic in which key members of staff/teachers and students participated, including the Head Girl & Boy, where they shared their views and fielded questions from the student audience. Interestingly, they reported that at least once a day there would be a report of bullying.
Additionally, they utilized this medium to make a special appeal to the student body to refrain from empowering bullies and their agenda and instead to reject the act of bullying, given its long-term negative effect on individuals especially students.
The activity was well received and created a greater level of awareness and discussions around the issues particularly among young people.
The major residential training session impacted a total of thirty-seven (37) participants. The group included guidance counsellors, teachers, social workers, student leaders, who were drawn from 20 schools and institutions from Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Catherine, and St. Thomas. The sessions
were facilitated by the Children First Team, and had guest presenter Dr. Herbert Gayle, Children First Board member and Anthropologist at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.
Feedback from participants has been that they have been impacted positively by participating in the stakeholder and training sessions. They have been utilizing the information garnered and are excited about implementing their plans. Participants developed plans for implementing a program in their organizations and are being assisted by Children First, where such assistance is requested. In addition, in light of the success of the program approval has been granted to continue and expand the program to new parishes with support from our funders, Global Fund.
The Spotlight Initiative is a global campaign launched in 2020 that aims to aid in the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030.
The project is a partnership between the European Union and the United Nations and is the world’s largest targeted effort geared towards the elimination of violence against women and girls.
The Children First Agency is a recipient of the Spotlight Initiative and actively responds to domestic and family violence, sexual and gender-based violence, child abuse, and sexual and economic exploitation, among other associated issues in Jamaica through two components: Theatre for Development and Parenting Support.
Theatre for Development: “Act it Out. Live it Out.”
Children First Agency has sought to utilize a theatre for development approach, to include dance, community drama and singing, to provide practical and deliberate efforts to highlight issues of violence against women and girls, within the four parishes targeted by spotlight: Kingston and St Andrew, Clarendon, St Thomas and Westmoreland. It has been long purported that art mimics life, and is supposedly a true representation of life experiences. It is therefore undeniable that theatre is powerful and transformative in highlighting critical and sensitive issues whilst presenting solutions.
This aspect of the project seeks to directly impact at least eighty (80) participants through training activities equipping participants with the knowledge and skills to implement theatre for development methodologies at the community level with the intent to impact their communities positively. The project also seeks to increase the knowledge and skills amongst sixteen thousand and eighty (16,080) community members and key stakeholders in relation to gender-based violence as well as associated issues, including positive non-violent parenting through community-led interventions and media advocacy campaigns.
To harness the potential of this initiative, effective strategies such as social media engagement were employed to increase mobilization and sensitize on issues relating to violence against women and girls. The intervention period allowed for rigorous participation by community members and a campaign to encourage consistent involvement. Importantly, T4D participants were armed with necessary knowledge and support to continue the process of developing customized presentations geared at promoting positive prevention messaging and tackling issues affecting their communities. Additionally, the Parish Advisory Teams will be instrumental in sustaining and supporting implemented interventions beyond the timeline of this project.
Parenting Support: “Family Matters.”
“It takes a village to raise a child” resonates beyond the constructs of a home or a community and requires a collaborative effort, purposefully driven to protect every child. With this in mind, the Children First Agency has sought to empower parents, guardians and other stakeholders in promoting positive parenting approaches, focusing on critical strategies for the prevention of family violence and violence against women and girls, thereby enabling them to become catalysts for change. This is being carried out in two of the targeted spotlight parishes: Clarendon and St Thomas.
This aspect of the project seeks to engage at least five hundred (500) parents/caregivers in training sessions geared towards improving their knowledge and capacity to apply effective gender-sensitive parenting strategies to prevent family violence. The project also seeks to increase the awareness of communities on positive parenting and gender issues, with approximately twenty thousand (20,000) persons reached via advocacy campaigns (including online engagement) and community interventions promoting access to the psycho-social support, health, welfare and social protection services offered at the Agency.
As a by-product of the training sessions, a minimum of one ‘Parenting League’ support group is to be established in each parish consisting of trained facilitators and parents who complete the training. The aim of the league is continuous provision of capacity building for parents
within the communities and implementation of support activities that will sustain societal change. This will involve linking into existing structures, building on existing networks and staff capacity. Additionally, this initiative will provide a safe haven for parents to voice concerns and access reputable advice. Lastly, continuous follow ups will be conducted by the Master Trainers to assess individual and community level impact.