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Most – if not all – conversations in Jamaica about youth exclude them from the discussion. Launching U-Report Jamaica recently gave me a “wow” moment: I realised this is finally a chance for youth to take charge of the narrative and start their own conversations.
More than 1,300 young people have already signed up to become U-Reporters. Our first poll, which explored issues affecting children in Jamaican communities, had a response rate of 44 per cent which surpasses the global standard and we are also the first country in the Caribbean to launch U-Report.
As an advocate for Jamaican youth, I have always wondered how much, how better, and what more can be done to help create an enabling environment for youth across the island. U-Report is the platform that regardless of your background or community, you have an opportunity to become a positive agent of change.
Launched with 1,000+ U-Reporters signed up
Coordinating U-Report took months of consistent work. From behind the scenes ensuring that U-Report was functional across the various messaging channels, to going on numerous U-Report School Tours with the Talk Up Yout team, the experience was phenomenal. While U-Report is a digital platform, we focused on enabling face-to-face conversations with youth which has made engagement more meaningful.
Throughout the tours, there were several occasions where students who needed a listening ear or a chance to open up about a particular issue affecting them, shared with me and I felt that I now had a responsibility to take greater action for and on behalf of them. As a rural youth I also was pleased that we managed to include not just urban schools but several rural schools which is in keeping with the mission of U-Report – a platform for ALL young people.
Free to join, respond to U-Report polls
As the official tagline for U-Report is #VoiceMatters, we have a responsibility of ensuring that we are directed by it and remain true to it. Guided by a national youth steering committee, we will ensure that U-Reporters are heard. We will also focus on expanding the channels available to U-Reporters beyond the current ones namely Facebook Messenger (message the word “JOIN”) and free SMS courtesy of FLOW (message “JOIN” to +1-876-838-4897).
As the National U-Report Coordinator, my mission, challenge and promise is to never stop asking myself these questions, and to be innovative and inclusive in how we answer them – as we continue to present an avenue for young people to speak out on issues that matter to them.