Empowering Adolescents, Families and Communities
With Life-Changing Mentoring & Other Support Programmes
Since Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.) was established in Kingston
in 1991, the organization has trained 695 volunteer adult mentors and
matched them with at risk high and secondary school students, facilitated
31 other organizations in setting up youth mentoring programmes, and
built up a network of life-changing programmes now empowering students,
families and communities.
Parenting Education Programme has reached out to school PTA members
through regular workshops, and to Jamaicans in general through a one
year national newspaper column and a series of periodic radio broadcasts,
with practical guidance and important information on parenting adolescents.
The organization also continues to play a vital role as an active advocate
for the welfare of all Jamaican youngsters.
The majority of Y.O.U. "graduates" have gone on to further
studies, vocational training or jobs, and are now gainfully employed
either at home or abroad. (Research is currently underway to ascertain
accurate statistics.) Their progress is a tribute to the organization's
holistic focus on priorities such as family values, building positive
self esteem, life skills, leadership training, conflict resolution,
healthy lifestyles, academic support and career guidance.
2,000 adolescents from 21 corporate area schools are currently registered
in one or more Y.O.U. programmes, while thousands more are benefiting
indirectly from the organization's advocacy, consultancy and educational
outreaches. Yet 14 years ago, when the organization was launched with
only 12 students from one school - Excelsior High - there were practically
no programmes available in Jamaica for adolescents, apart for those
for youngsters in trouble with the law.
“We believe that youth from even the most
disadvantaged circumstances can succeed, when they are connected with
caring adult mentors, who listen to them, stand by them and help them
to attain their fullest potential.
- THE Y.O.U. MOTTO
Major social changes over the decades had resulted in the breakdown
of the strong extended family structure which had nurtured past generations.
Communities were in crisis, and Jamaican young people lacked positive
Today, Y.O.U. operates 13 programmes in schools and communities, from
its base at 4½ Camp Road near Cross Roads. These are:
- Supervised Individual Mentoring Programme (the Y.O.U. core programme)
with an average of 150 current Mentor-Mentee pairs
- Group Mentoring for those on the waiting list for individual Mentors
- Mentoring Consultancy
- Monthly Adolescent Workshops featuring family values and life skills
- Peer Counseling
- Homework Centre with tutors (based at Merlgrove High School but
serving other students as well)
- Motivational "Power Talks" in schools
- Shadow Week (annual workplace orientation programme in partnership
- Summer Enrichment (annual day camps)
- Career Guidance
- Parenting Education
- Advocacy & Public Education
Y.O.U.'s key success strategies include a strong training and motivational
programme for the dedicated volunteer Mentors who form the backbone
of its team, and working closely with school Principals, Guidance Counselors
and parents. In addition, the organization has built up a dynamic community
outreach in recent years, taking selected programmes to inner city community
These commissioned community projects have formed part of the vital
income-generating initiatives of Y.O.U., which is a voluntary organization.
A successful Greeting Card Project featuring beautiful designs by leading
Jamaican artists, plus nominal fees from the Mentoring Consultancy work,
also help to keep the other programmes going. These earnings supplement
funding support over the years, from USAID under the Uplifting Adolescent
Programme, and from other international and Jamaican organizations.
A member of the International Mentoring Association (IMA), Y.O.U. networks
actively with other organizations serving young people, and has gained
a high level of respect as a dynamic leader in civil society, both locally
and internationally. Y.O.U. Founder Betty Ann Blaine has served as an
IMA Board Member, and both Mrs. Blaine and current Executive Director
Georgia Scott, have presented the Y.O.U. Model at several international
conferences, to resounding acclaim. At home, Y.O.U. was honored nationally
by the Public Relations Society of Jamaica, which presented the organization
with its Community Service Award for 2002.
Ever cognizant of the overwhelming need for the Y.O.U. programmes island
wide, Mrs. Scott and her team aspire to take them to every Jamaican
parish, inspired by the organization's vision, which declares:
"We firmly believe that young people from even the most disadvantaged
circumstances can succeed, when they are brought together with caring
adult mentors who listen to them, stand by them and help them to achieve
their full potential."
Y.O.U. can be reached at (876) 759-2080-1 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
, or by visiting the Y.O.U. offices at 4½ Camp Road, Kingston
5 (corner of Hector Street).
Testimonial by current Y.O.U. 'Mentee" Romaine
"MENTORS MEAN SO MUCH"
By Romaine Maragh, 16 year old St. Georges College student
and 'Mentee' with the Mentoring Programme of Youth Opportunities Unlimited
A Testimonial presented Y.O.U.'s 14th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service
Sunday March 20, 2005, at Love & Faith Ministries, 33 Balmoral Avenue,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, my fellow mates, good
first heard of Youth Opportunities Unlimited from my mother. At first
I was reluctant to go because I thought it was going to be boring and
not edifying, but I was wrong. Y.O.U. has so much to offer to the youths,
they contributed a lot to help make the youths more aware, especially
the youths of the inner cities who are ignorant to many things that
others take for granted.
As a youth I am impressed with the Mentoring Programme that Y.O.U.
offers and was thrilled when I was told that I was on the programme.
I live alone with my mother. As a male and a teenager, living with one's
mother can sometimes be difficult, because you cannot relate some of
the boys' stuff with your mother. I was happy to know that I have someone
positive that I can talk to, look up to, a role model and a friend.
The Mentors mean so much to me and other youths that are benefiting
from this programme. I can't explain how it makes us feel when our mentors
call us, have lunch with us or just sit and listen to us.
Sometimes all we as teenagers need is to know that someone cares,
especially if you are from a dysfunctional family, someone to bring
out the best in us, someone to encourage us, someone to guide us, someone
that we can trust, someone that we can relate to, and someone to be
I take this opportunity to thank Y.O.U. and all who have volunteered
to take the risk of touching a youth's life (our Mentors). I also thank
my Mentor, Mr. Timon Waugh for the wonderful role he is playing in my
Today, I challenge you all to become Mentors, because you will not
only be touching lives but you will also be helping to change Jamaica.
Remember the youths of today will be the future of tomorrow.