#FacesOfUNICEF: A new chance for young people’s voices to matter

Christopher Harper joined us recently as our National U-Report Coordinator. Jamaica will be the first Caribbean country to launch U-Report — a free tool that gives young people a way of sharing their views via weekly polls they respond to via their favourite social media and messaging apps and free SMS. U-Report will use this data to inform and guide work by us and our partners and to advocate for change.

Over the years, a lot has been said about what appears to be “wrong” with Jamaican youth. I personally believe that what’s actually wrong is the root of this perspective: a lack of confidence in our capacity and our ability.

The reality is that being a young person in Jamaica is difficult. We are often labelled as a generation that has limited interest in the affairs of our country and a group that is extremely impressionable. The truth is, limitations placed on the reach of our voices and the approach in how we are engaged has left us feeling largely disempowered. I definitely want to change that.

Speaking up is hard when you’re ignored

As the U-Report slogan says, “Voice Matters”. Young people across Jamaica should be included in all spaces that address their development; they should be a part of the process. We need to identify innovative and creative ways to deal with the constant changes that we undergo. It’s time to have conversations with us instead of about us.

U-Report is an exciting opportunity to make a difference, engage in conversations and embark on actions that can yield monumental results. U-Report can amplify our voice and allow us to become positive agents of change.

U-Report will be our generation’s contribution to a better Jamaican society 

It is a platform that responds to our youthful energies, and meets us in the spaces we like to occupy. We are millennials, a generation that knows digital media better than any other.

Inspired by the work of countries like Pakistan, Mexico, Uganda and others that have launched and implemented U-Report, I am ready to make this platform an avenue for meaningful youth engagement. Countries have used the information gathered to make changes on a national and global scale through legislative reform, through the provision of access to information and by sending alerts in times of emergencies. With such incredible potential among young people just waiting to be engaged in our country, U-Report can make just as big an impact in Jamaica

I am excited to be leading the U-Report project

Although I am a lawyer by profession, I am also an advocate for young people. I am committed to the successful implementation of U-Report – a platform that will strengthen the voice of young people all across Jamaica.

I will be working extensively with UNICEF, partners, stakeholders and the National Youth Steering Committee for U-Report to prepare Jamaica for the launch of this innovative tool. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at charper@unicef.org or contact us via social media @unicefjamaica.


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