Have you ever been on a rollercoaster ride? That's exactly what the trip between Kingston and St. Thomas felt like. The twists and turns and the ups and downs of the bumpy road surface seem to reflect the challenges faced by many Jamaican youth in accessing necessary psychosocial support and services. However, just like the new road currently being constructed, opportunities for youth in the parish are also improving with the opening of the new Teen Hub. Welcome to the second Teen Hub in Jamaica!
Children and adolescents at the new Teen Hub, based in the Morant Bay Bus Park, now have access to a wide range of social, educational, and health services in a safe, youth-friendly space. This Teen Hub, established by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, is significant and follows the 2017 launch of the first Teen Hub in the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre, St Andrew.
Financed by the European Union-funded Spotlight Initiative to address gender based violence, and constructed by UNICEF Jamaica, the Teen Hub aims to provide essential resources for holistic youth development. It offers homework and research assistance, health screening, counselling services, career guidance, sexual and reproductive health services, and much more.
St Thomas is one of the target parishes for the Spotlight Initiative, since unfortunately, the parish suffers from high rates of child abuse and sexual violence. The Teen Hub provides an additional layer of support to youngsters It complements the assistance they already receive at school and home, by bridging the gaps.
In a rapidly changing world where young people are exposed to various influences, the Teen Hub is at a convenient location.
Mickayla Lynch, a 12-year-old student from Lyssons Primary, shared her expectations for the Teen Hub. She envisions a place where young people can freely express their opinions and emotions and seek help with family issues. She plans to take full advantage of the facility and engage with the workers for assistance in any situation she may face now or in the future.
Aliyah Currie, an 11-year-old student from the same school, considers the Teen Hub a safe place for children. She recognizes the prevalence of issues such as suicide, smoking, and drinking among her peers and believes that the Teen Hub can provide the necessary support and guidance. Aliyah encourages others to seek help and take comfort in the fact that they are not alone.
The opening marks a significant milestone for the youth in the parish. The journey may have been bumpy, but the destination is filled with promise and potential. Buckle up and get ready for an incredible ride!
What’s UNICEF doing?
The St Thomas Teen Hub was officially launched on June 9, 2023 and is now serving adolescents and young people in the parish of St. Thomas and its environs under the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative in Jamaica. St Thomas Teen Hub offers various services including HIV/STI testing, family planning counselling and life skills-based education support. The hub aims to contribute to a reduction in violence against women and girls in St Thomas.