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USAID Utilizes Sport to Prevent Youth Violence in Jamaica

USAID Utilizes Sport to Prevent Youth Violence in Jamaica

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The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that it would fund up to eight projects that utilise sport as a tool for youth development and violence prevention.

Mr Alex Gainer, the Acting Country Representative for USAID/Jamaica, announced at a ceremony held at the Usain Bolt Track at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, on April 6, the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP). “Sport can be used intentionally to promote the development of life skills and critical thinking skills, for workforce development, for promoting positive youth development, and for violence prevention,” said Gainer. “Today, we are happy to announce that USAID is investing US$285,000 into activities that intentionally use sport as a tool for youth development and violence prevention”, he continued.

The eight grants will directly benefit over 700 at-risk Jamaican youth and 100 parents or caregivers in ten violence-prone communities. They also provide training to over 100 coaches and leaders/facilitators in the intentional use of sport for violence prevention in the same communities. Activities will focus on building life skills, providing pathways to employment, increasing participants’ abilities to resolve conflicts, and improving parent-child interactions. Together these activities will utilize netball, basketball, cricket, football, track and field, and even tackle football.

Sport-for-development (S4D) grants are part of a long-term USAID/Jamaica strategy for violence prevention. The Youth For Development Network (YFDN) was created in Jamaica in 2011 with USAID support. According to Andre Wilson, YFDN’s Executive Director: “with USAID support, YFDN has impacted over 3,000 vulnerable youth island-wide using the power of sport as a tool for development and common language for connecting and learning.” As part of the current initiative, YFDN provided S4D training to over 50 program leaders in Jamaica and is a recipient of one of the USAID grants. Wilson added: “This new award is timely as it will help us collectively measure the use of sport towards promoting peace and preventing violence in Jamaica.” YFDN’s program will train coaches and program leaders, train a group of youth leaders, and then implement a six-month life skills program for vulnerable youth using the A Ganar football-based methodology.

Other projects receiving USAID support include:

  • Project Gold: Using netball and basketball for a life skills program for 25 at-risk youth and parent-child engagement activities for 15 parents
  • The Jamaica Basketball Association: Using basketball and football to offer life skills training to 90 at-risk youth, support 30 parents to better engage with their children, and train 30 coaches in S4D methodologies
  • Changemakers Unlimited: Using track and field and football to help 75 at-risk youth develop life skills and improve their conflict resolution skills, while training 25 coaches on how to better implement S4D methodologies

Youth in the USAID/Jamaica S4D projects will complete pre-and post-assessments to determine if and by how much they have reduced their risk factors as part of the training process. These activities are conducted through USAID’s Positive Pathways Activity, a five-year effort to reduce violence in hotspot communities while building the human capital of youth, parents and caregivers living there

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