Remember when you were 15 years old and you were trying to figure out who you were and what to do with your life? Remember the "friends" that wanted you to do stuff you weren't sure about, the family that seemed so uncool, the old habits that seemed childish? Do you remember who is was that stood by you and helped you see that the future wouldn't always be like this? Was it your parent, your teacher, your aunt or grandfather, maybe a friend?
For 15 year olds in Trenchtown, Jamaica, it is often the teachers and peers at Boys Town, an NGO that provides school, training, and community services to the youth in a Kingston inner city community. They have an interesting program helping young adults, young men in particular, who are 15 to 18 years old, bridge the gap between the end of their academic career and finding a job. Because many of the training programs won't accept people under 18 years old, and because many of these youth are no longer in school, this program teaches them hands-on skills, while "sanding down the rough edges" as one of the staff put it, teaching them lifestyle skills that will help them get into the official certificate programs in trades, hospitality industry or other areas. It is a crititcal time of youth engagement, because if they weren't in Boys Town, there are plenty of less savoury individuals willing to instruct them in the ways of guns and drugs.
I was lucky enough to get a tour of the organization. My pictures really don't do it justice, it was a windy day during the summer vacation, and everyone was inside for a dance performance, the culmination of a summer camp program.
|Traffic around the on-site training centre|
|Boys leaning in to watch the dance performances|
|It looks so peaceful, but inside the auditorium, the music was blaring!|
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