The non-governmental organisation (NGO) Youth Inspiring Positive Change JA Limited is seeking to engage young people as effective agents of change in the peace building process through a Youth for Peace JA National Campaign.
Neville Charlton, founder and chairman of the organisation, said that the initiative, which commenced in December 2018, features volunteerism, peace building and advocacy for social change. It trains youth in social issues and helps them hone skills to tackle various social issues, while creating spaces for growth and empowerment of the country’s most vulnerable.
Charlton said the youth-centred campaign, which focuses on peace building process at the community, national and international levels by building a culture of respect and understanding, uses workshops and tours with stakeholders such as youth clubs, high schools, colleges, universities and youths in communities.
Charlton is a also Global Peace Ambassador.
“You have to ensure that young people are not just seen as the problem, but as the solution,” he said while addressing a recent steering committee meeting of the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA).
“Don’t do things for them, but allow them the opportunity to lead these programmes and allow them to have a voice at the table, which is in line with the UN Resolution 2250,” he implored.
The United Nations Security (UN) Council Resolution 2250 is the first resolution on youth, peace and security. Adopted by the UN Security Council in 2015, the resolution emphasises the importance of youth as agents of change in the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.
He said through the initiative, a Youth for Peace tour was conducted in partnership with Integrity Action Movement, and The University of the West Indies, Mona Commuting Student Office, where visits were made to 10 high schools across the island to engage young people in a meaningful way.
Charlton said the initiative saw the NGO partnering with Students’ Safety on the Streets Initiative in a peace march in downtown Kingston during Peace Month in March this year. He said they used the march to lobby for safe school zones, including an increased number of pedestrian crossings and the strengthening of police presence/patrols in these zones.
The organisation has so far attracted some 2,500 volunteers and 250 registered members between ages 14-29 years. Charlton said those involved in the organisation have been experiencing positive changes in their lives, with many moving toward tertiary education.
Meanwhile, Charlton’s work with young people is being recognised internationally, as he was recently selected as one of the United Nations Development Programme’s ’16×16′ participants from across the world. The 16 x 16 initiative recognises, values and supports the positive role that 16 young women and men play as leaders of youth organisations. He was the only youth selected from Jamaica and across the Caribbean.
He participated in the preparatory conference in Rome last month, where a Rome Youth Call was presented ahead of the United Nations High-Level Political Forum 2019. The call to action urges all relevant stakeholders and partners to take bold and strong action on Sustainable Development Goal 16 and empower young people.