Jamaica Reaching Out to the Youths

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Photo Credit: Liridona Duraku

            The YMCA in Jamaica, Queens has started a new Y Roads Program in collaboration with Opportunity for a Better Tomorrow (OBT).

            The Y Roads program reaches out to young people who are struggling to help them get back on track. The program caters to youths between the ages of 16-24. They build centers where there is a need for them.

            “Jamaica and the southeast queens area needs a lot of support for their young people,” said Clare Dwyer the Y Roads Center Director.

            “There is an issue of disconnected youth who have dropped out of school, who are not working and are really just drifting,” said Jack Lynch the CEO and President of the YMCA New York. “This is the first of what we hope will be 3 Y Roads Centers in high need neighborhoods,” continued Lynch.

            These programs are geared to help the youths become more prepared to live in the competitive business world but they help them in every step of the way.

            “We have a partnership with OBT who specialize in vocational training, GED attainment, a lot of job training with things like Microsoft office, on the Y side we do a lot of groups, mental health, we want to create an all accompanying center for young people,” said Dwyer.

            “If you are a young person getting their life back on track you have to learn how to navigate a wide system of services, we ask the question, What if we put all the services under one roof?” said Lynch.

            There are currently 10 students in the program that is now only a week and a half old. There is room for 60 students in the vocational program but in total 300 students can be helped through a variation of programs.

            “The YMCA is great at what they do as far as their programs and we are great at what we do as far as our services, we figured if we can combine we can make a great impact,” said Lashawn McCauley, the site manager for OBT.

            The assistance provided for the youths does not rest solely in the realm of business and employment.

            “We want to take care of the whole person, that involves recreation and taking care of themselves physically,” said Lynch.

            The program has received funding from a wide range of sources such as, the association office at the YMCA, OBT, private money, foundations and the economic development corporation.

             Anyone interested in the program can find information through flyers around the neighborhood, community meetings, Facebook, craigslist and of course other students.

              “We have no doubt we will gather a huge response from young people,” said Lynch. 

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