The MultiCare Youth Foundation has been working with its partners for more than two decades to empower underserved children with a multiplicity of skills to effect real and sustainable change in their lives, as well as the communities in which they live.
The organisation, which is an amalgamation of the MultiCare Foundation, Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE), and Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU), is a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Jamaica 55 Commemorative Medal of Appreciation for service to Jamaica.
Executive Director, MultiCare Youth Foundation, Alicia Glasgow-Gentles, tells JIS News that the Foundation is in the business of changing lives, as the organisation’s work is focused on creating opportunities for underserved children and youth.
The Foundation serves two different cohorts, including young people between the ages of six and 18 years, who are enrolled in Primary and Secondary schools in Kingston and St. Andrew, and St. Catherine.
“We have 32 schools under our umbrella, and in that programme we provide enrichment programmes in sports and the visual and performing arts, and we do capacity building in the schools in those areas,” Mrs. Glasgow-Gentles notes.
“So, we do teacher training as an example of a component in the sports and visual performing arts programme. The older cohort that we treat with [are] young people between the ages of 16 and 29 years, and those are the young people we consider to be unattached. So, their needs are to get enrolled in an educational institution or to be employed,” she adds.
She informs that members of the older cohort receive skills training, life skills, mentorship and employment opportunities.
“The YOU part of the Foundation was acquired in 2015. It was really Jamaica’s premier mentoring organisation, and core to our programme is the recruitment, training, matching and supporting of healthy mentor and mentee relationships. So, over the last seven years, we have trained more than 800 mentors, who are matched and supported with young people in the programme,” the Executive Director tells JIS News.
In terms of the life skills training initiative, young people learn to communicate, develop a sense of self-worth, respect for self and others, conflict management and money management.
“In the younger cohort we use sports as the catalyst… to teach discipline and teamwork… the life skills that will allow our young people to become successful adolescents and adults eventually,” Mrs. Glasgow-Gentles says.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director notes that the joining together of the MultiCare Foundation, YUTE and YOU has allowed the organisation to expand and extend its reach and impact in a number of areas.
“Now, we are able to properly train and monitor mentor/trainee relationships. We are able to do life skills across all our cohorts and we are able to look at the employability of the youngsters who are unattached, as well as to provide enrichment programmes for young people in the school system,” Mrs. Glasgow-Gentles points out.
The MultiCare Youth Foundation is supported by anchor donors, namely: ICD Group Limited, Flow Foundation, JMMB Joan Duncan Foundation, Fidelity Motors (Nissan) and the Caribbean Cement Company Limited.
Support is also provided by a number of development organisations, such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund; Sports Development Foundation; American Friends of Jamaica, and Australian Aid.
Mrs. Glasgow-Gentles says it was humbling to receive the Prime Minister’s Jamaica 55 Commemorative Medal of Appreciation.
“We as a team share the achievement with our Board of Directors who volunteer their time and expertise to help us on our journey. We also share it with the young people we know we have been able to impact,” she tells JIS News.
In terms of plans going forward, the Executive Director says the Foundation has branched out in the city of Montego Bay, St. James.
“It is an exciting year for us because we are now implementing our strategic plan to expand our services into other parts of the country and not just the Kingston metropolitan area, which is where we have operated for the last 26 years,” Mrs Glasgow-Gentles says.
“We are now being able to impact young people from other areas of the country. We are in Montego Bay now, and it is important for us to be doing it when there is a State of Public Emergency going on and providing those additional services to help the young people who are struggling with attraction to crime and violence in the western end of the island,” she adds.
She emphasises that the Foundation will continue to take up the opportunities to empower and uplift young people, and to provide the necessary support to create a better life for them.