Jamaica’s second Teen Hub is set for construction following a groundbreaking ceremony held recently in St. Thomas. The new facility will advance the Ministry of Health and Wellness efforts and key stakeholders to provide adolescents and youth with age-appropriate services in a supportive setting.
Funded by the European Union’s Spotlight Initiative, with implementation through UNICEF Jamaica, the St. Thomas-based Hub will model the services offered at the first Teen Hub, which opened in Kingston in 2017. The Hub will provide mental health screening/counselling, career guidance, life skills education, sexual and reproductive health services, HIV counselling and testing.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony held at the St. Thomas Municipal Corporation in Morant Bay, State Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn described the Teen Hub as an innovative and practical approach to minimize and mitigate risky behavioural and lifestyle practices among adolescents and youth.
“We believe that the Teen Hub in St. Thomas is strategically placed to empower young people in their decision-making skills with the plethora of services that will be offered,” noted Minister Flynn.
Highlighting findings published in 2014, the State Minister underlined that the coming facility is strategically placed based on the parish’s high prevalence rate for teenage pregnancy.
“A situation analysis of the state of adolescents and youth health reveals the need for aggressive work in executing health promotion programmes to empower their engagement in healthy lifestyle choices,” added Minister Flynn.
Uptake and Support
With stakeholder support, the Teen Hub intervention is poised for expansion as a critical strategy in adolescent development. Delivering remarks at the ceremony, Acting United Nations Resident Coordinator Mariko Kagoshima underscored that the United Nations and its partners are pleased to support the availability of adolescent-friendly services.
“Our aim is to help turn the tide on the unusually high rates of teen pregnancy, as well as child sexual abuse and gender-based violence, which exist in communities across the island.”
“Jamaica’s Teen Hub is now a best practice that has the attention and eyes of the world! The United Nations and its partners are immensely pleased to support the Government and people of Jamaica,” Kagoshima continued.
The Teen Hub, since its first opening in Kingston, has seen an uptake in the access of its services. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, some 7,700 young persons accessed the Hub from January to December 2019. 7000 accessed skills-based, mental health, career guidance, HIV and pregnancy prevention education, while some 879 received HIV counselling and testing. From January to December 2021, approximately 3,350 young persons accessed services at the Teen Hub amidst school closures and no movement days. Seven hundred thirty-five received HIV counselling and testing.