Jamaican News

August Town Residents Benefit from Wellness Fest

Residents of August Town have expressed appreciation to the University of Technology (UTech) and its partners for hosting a Wellness Fest aimed at strengthening the social and economic fabric of the community.

At the event, community members were engaged through a Health and Information Fair, where persons had access to oral-health screening and basic medical checks.

They also had access to information regarding basic civil documents such as their Taxpayer Registration Number, birth registration and obtaining a certificate, and other activities.

Local entertainment and a football competition staged in ‘Africa Gardens’ brought a smooth end to the staging of the intervention on Sunday, February 26.

The social intervention involved collaboration among the University of Technology (UTech), the Papine Development Area Committee, National Integrity Action, Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) and the Social Development Commission (SDC).

Speaking in an interview with JIS News, Director in the Department of Community Services and Development at UTech, Paulton Gordon said he was pleased with the impact that the event was having on the community.

“There are about 10 communities involved here and everybody seems to be calm and cooperating, and that’s the thing we want to build and to ensure they understand, that although they are in a different part of the community, they are all one. This sort of activity (football) helps with the bonding,” he said.

He noted that due to the successful implementation of the strategy, the University would have no reason to not make this an annual affair and expand it into other areas.

Kintyre has already benefited from this intervention. Other communities soon to benefit include Gordon Town, Maryland, and Standpipe.

For his part, Field Supervisor at SDC, Darron Murray, had high praises for the staging of the intervention, noting that the impact it had went way beyond what words could describe.

“What this does is help to smooth things down, calm things down. The sports derby brought out persons from all sections of August Town in unity. Not only does it bridge the peace gap, it also helps to build healthy lifestyles, as it involved persons of various age levels and various cross sections of the community,” he noted.

Community Case Management Officer at CSJP, Angella Harris expressed delight, while noting that she was not surprised at the success the strategy yielded.

“You should have seen the number of persons who came out to access the different services offered. They just walked out of their homes and had everything right there. The football competition is a good partnership, and it was prudent for CSJP to be here. That kind of access speaks volumes,” she said.

She reiterated that it is important at this time to reach out to unattached young people in a holistic manner.

Meanwhile, Coordinator and Community Advocate Keith Henry, popularly known in August Town as ‘Tess’ said he is grateful to the partners who have come on board and have made a real difference to the lives of the residents in August Town.

He said with their assistance, they now live a more relaxed life.

“We have integration of the teams (and communities). This competition brings together the people who were rivals. Now they are on the field together with no problem. Now you can go to any community and stand up and no one pressures you or asks you any question. So it brings a neutralisation to the communities here in August Town,” he said.

He further noted that these are some of the activities that contributed to August Town having no murders in 2016.

Manager of Riverside Football Club, a team from one of the communities in August Town, Starkey Wray said he was pleased at the impact the intervention was having on the community.

“We have a really nice mix going right now. Everyone is coming together in unity and the crime-free thing that’s going on… that is so beautiful. August Town nice again. Now you have the Gola side, the Jungle 12 side, the Bryce Hill, Riverside, Vietnam, everybody mix up together. It’s really a nice mixture, really beautiful; we all love it,” he said.

People playing football at Wellness Fest
Photo: Football teams River Football Club (red striped top) and Real youths, participate in the sports derby put on by the University of Technology (UTech) as part of its Wellness Fest social intervention strategy in August Town. The event was held in Africa Gardens, August Town on Sunday (February 26).

Mr. Wray said he would encourage other communities affected by internal strife to look at the experiment and try it out, as it would bring untold benefits.
Other residents of August Town also welcomed the implementation of the intervention in the community.

Jennifer Winder, a resident of August Town for more than 26 years, was beyond herself with excitement at the positive impact the intervention, especially the sports derby, is having on the community.

“It is good for the community, [it] brought down the crime, everybody is at one and we love it. I applaud UTech and the SDC and all the others involved. We [really] appreciate it,” she said.

Deva Rowe, another resident, said he was happy for the intervention, as it brought joy to the community.

“It really bring some joy to the community. If yuh notice, there’s no war. Yeah man, this good fi di community and I would encourage others to come in. I wish some more people like UTech would come in and give help an’ mek others know seh August Town nice again,” he stated.

The primary focus of the Wellness Fest is to strengthen the social and economic fabric of communities, and empower young people towards wholesome activities and away from the lure of crime and other antisocial behaviour.

The Wellness Fest will be used as an avenue to build community-based organisations and encourage greater advocacy for community needs.

Activities will include workshops, training sessions, community workday, and community fair and sport events.

Key agencies will also be on hand to provide services and information on justice, security, healthy lifestyle, education and training, and how to access documents. Basic health services will be provided.

The series will culminate with a grand event at UTech, which will include display and sale of products made by citizens, entertainment, a wellness fair and the finals of the sports competition.

Article by: Roger Hutchinson
Photo from: www.jis.gov.jm

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