Copping the Michael Manley Award for Community Self-Reliance in 2011, and the Digicel/SDC Best Community Youth Programme Award at the parish and national levels in 2010, Spring Village in St Catherine has emerged as a model community, and has earned high praise from Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen.
Spring Village is a community-based umbrella organization comprised of representatives from schools, churches, community and sports clubs, individuals, organizations and stakeholders in the Bushy Park area of St. Catherine.
During a visit to the community recently as part of his Jamaica 50 Island Tour, Sir Patrick said that the facilities and programmes at Spring Village mirrored his ‘I Believe Initiative’ which was launched in 2011 to respond to the concerns of citizens with meaningful activities and measurable programmes.
“Your efforts are deserving of celebrating in this the fiftieth year, as they are helping to create pathways thorough partnerships and promote programmes to build hope, belief and sound values in Jamaican families, youth and education,” the Governor-General said.
He observed that communities with structured development programmes were more likely to have better rates of academic achievement among young people, lower levels of crime and violence and better opportunities for sustainable economic activity. He commended the Spring Village Development Foundation for introducing skills training in areas such as welding, electrical installation, food preparation; and after school activities in music, art, drama and speech and development programmes for at-risk youth.
Sir Patrick said that in Jamaica’s fiftieth year of Independence, communities should look at the significant things that are happening around them and take a moment to reflect on what has been achieved. “We want to commend your accomplishments in Spring Village and to affirm a sense of pride, confidence and hope in the enterprises and activities that have lifted the profile of Jamaica since 1962,” the Governor-General said.
Sir Patrick Allen and Lady Allen visited Spring Village to see firsthand developments in the community and to affirm the achievements that have brought it to national attention. Their Excellences were on a tour of St. Catherine which included stops at Ewarton for a visit with the Ewarton Community Development Action Committee, McGrath High School, Jamaica Energy Partners and the Blackwood Gardens Basic School. They also visited children and care givers at the Sunbeam Children’s Home on route to Spring Village.
Executive Director of the Spring Village Development Foundation Mr. Randy Finikin told the Governor-General that the ethos of Spring Village is that every person who benefits from the facilities has to make a contribution and leave it in a better condition for the next batch of beneficiaries.
The Spring Village Development Foundation is marking its fourteenth anniversary this year. The foundation was established as a direct response to high rates of unemployment, school dropout, a worrying number of unplanned pregnancies, drug abuse and child neglect, among other prevailing socio-economic conditions. The organization is mandated to empower residents of the community and adjacent areas to achieve self-reliance in order to improve their educational, social, economical, environmental and spiritual well being.
To date the intervention has resulted in the construction of a community development and training centre where skills training in HEART/NTA Level 1 and 2 courses in welding, electrical installation, commercial food preparation, office administration and housekeeping are available. Adult support programmes including leadership development, parenting and conflict management are also offered at the centre.
The Foundation also provides academic support including scholarships for GSAT awardees and bursaries for tertiary students, as well as assistance for needy students to attend school. Youth development especially for at risk and unattached youth is made possible through sports, the performing arts, the Eagle Star Marching Band and multimedia programmes such as a community radio.
The work and activities of the Spring Village Development Foundation are made possible by a monthly contribution from Jamaica Broilers. The HEART/NTA also covers up to sixty per cent of the cost of skills training, while the Environment Foundation of Jamaica assists with funding for the early childhood arts project. Multilateral agencies and Diaspora organizations also assist with funding.