The Gore Family Foundation has initiated a special internship programme to benefit 15 at-risk youth between the age of 16 and 24 from Rose Town in Kingston, who will then return to their community to execute a redevelopment project.
Under the Rose Town Internship Programme, the participants are transported five days per week to the newly established, high-tech training centre at the Gore Phoenix Park in St Catherine, where they use modern laptops equipped with Internet connection to participate in virtual learning sessions at no cost to them. They are also given free meals.
“I want them to know that they are cared for and that they are important to us, and then we want to see them find their passion in life,” said Christine Gore, director of the Christine and Phillip Gore Family Foundation, which has invested $20 million to finance the project.
“We want them to secure a future, not only for themselves, but for their communities,” she emphasised.
According to her, the programme is about giving at-risk youth a chance to become independent Jamaicans by offering a nine-month training in construction, starting with disciplines such as life skills, home training, business etiquette, time management and study discipline in an online course, supervised by an intern coordinator. The only requirement is that they should be able to pass a literacy and numeracy test.
Upon completion of the programme, they will be assigned to Gore contractors on a construction site to complete their practical training.
“It is impossible to ignore the plight of these youth if we are going to live here. More and more, we see the effects of a broken system that is impacting negatively on them and Jamaica’s future, so we have no choice but to involve ourselves in this endeavour. We have to do it. If we don’t do it, nobody will do it for us. If we don’t succeed, we are dead in the water,” Christine said.
“This is what I want to do. I don’t need to buy another dress, a car, a house or anything. This is what I want to do for the time I have left – to change the circumstances of these youth,” she said.
At the end of the practical, the youth will return to Rose Town under the supervision of Gore Development construction specialists, and will be required to select a project from the redevelopment of Rose Town master plan, which they will execute as a team, working for between 12 and 18 months, depending on the pace at which they function.
Christine said another batch of interns will soon be recruited into the revolving programme, which is expected to run, initially, for three years.
She disclosed that Rose Town was selected for the roll-out because the foundation felt comfortable working with members of the community, having completed projects there before.
Special projects consultant for the Gore Family Foundation, Brendon Burke, said a mentorship programme has been designed with tertiary students who have been given Gore scholarships to be mentors for the youth in the period after graduation.
Participant Markel Balfour, a graduate of Camperdown High School, said it is a great opportunity.
“Most of us are not in school and not working, and here we get a chance to do something, so I appreciate this move,” he told The Gleaner.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Shanique Charlton, a 17-year-old who attends Kingston Technical High School and who will be sitting six Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects this year.
“I am glad for this opportunity. At least when I leave school, I have something to do,” she said.