Nicole Watson and Jamal Payne, co-founders of the Parish Land Youth Community Club, are working to bring community spirit back to the district. (Picture by Lennox Devonish)
- Zuckerberg grilled about acquisitions Read More
- Tech hearing postponed Read More
- Footballers can now be sent off for coughing Read More
- Rowley: No public risk from CPL Read More
- Wanted: A more efficient airport Read More
- Low-hanging fruit for all Read More
- Oprah to tackle racism in new series Read More
IN YEARS GONE BY Parish Land, Christ Church was a place where activities abounded for young and old.
Football and cricket tournaments were the norm and there was a sense of community. Not anymore. The clearest sign is that the community centre, once a focal point for the area, is now hardly utilised.
Nicole Watson wants to change that. She and her boyfriend Jamal Payne have formed the Parish Land Youth Community Club to rekindle not only some life in the district but to bring residents closer together.
“Nothing much goes on in Parish Land,” she said. “One time you used to hear about night cricket, there was ballroom dancing in the community centre, there was a social club, but that is now defunct. We want go get things happening, so the children and the parents can play a part in developing the district and work together.”
Watson, who was born in Parish Land 34 years ago, said she recognised that the task of mobilising the community will be a tough one, but anticipates that club numbers will grow.
“We are looking for members to come and join,” the mother of three said. “We want the input from young and old: we want to know their concerns and to put plans in place that everyone can benefit.”
Her plans for the community have started to take shape and Watson said one of them is to have a Kiddies Kadooment band in the next Crop Over Festival. They also want to do fun walks to get the residents healthy, and use sports tournaments for that purpose as well as to develop friendly rivalry.
Nicole Watson says the upcoming Independence family fun day is for all the children, teens and adults in Parish Land.
When the young children have homework on evenings and their parents are still at work or will come home tired, the club will step in to help through a homework programme, Watson said.
It is intended that the community centre, the large playing field and hard court will become focal points of a revived community.
The group held a fun day in August that Watson said drew a great response. “It was so good that it shocked me; the people did not want to go home and they have been asking to have something for Independence Day,” she said.
Watson said Parish Land had a few years ago been the scene of some acts of violence and that was probably the reason why people no longer wanted to come out. But she said things had quieted down.
“When we were planning the first family fun day, when I went to the police station to get the permits, (an officer) said, ‘Wait, you holding something in Parish Land? you ain’t frightened? there used to be a lot of war’,” she recalled. “But I had to say that I will try to hold something to get the people together, and just as I expected we had a violence-free event. People can feel safe coming out to community events.”
She said most of all she wanted wholesome activities for the young people. The youthful looking mum said she understood well the concept that it takes a village to raise a child and wanted to enable that environment.
Watson wants the children, especially the teens, to realise there is a lot more to life than sitting on a block and that there are activities and avenues that will benefit them in the long run. The group has scheduled as one of the major events in the near future a session especially for the young men about avoiding crime and violence.
She said given the reports of gun violence in the country, efforts will be made to ensure such practices do not pervade the community and that Parish Land does not again have a negative reputation.
Watson said there are examples for young villagers to follow, such as singer Buggy Nhakente, who was born and raised a stone’s throw away from the community centre. She said he has promised to make himself available to the community when he is in the island.
She hopes that neighbouring communities like Fairy Valley, Silver Sands, Charnocks and Coverley can participate in the activities in the future. (LK)