Life Yard empowers youths

February 20, 2017
Life Yard visitors pose with its members.
Life Yard students enjoying movie night.
Life Yard students participating in art and craft lessons.

Over three years ago, 18 Rastafarian men from the violence-stricken Parade Gardens in Kingston teamed up to form a movement called Life Yard, aimed at providing positive role models and useful initiatives for residents.

Today, the movement has grown larger than life, so to speak, having attracted some 5,000 visitors, with over 1,000 tourists from some 39 countries.

Life Yard is based on Fleet Street in Parade Gardens. The location houses a farm and a restaurant, both of which are owned and operated by the members.

The group uses the proceeds to engage in various outreach programmes to the benefit of the community.

"We are a social enterprise and we are also a community-based organisation," Shane 'EyeBall' Morgan, who operates as the CEO, told THE STAR.

He said one of their foremost initiatives is a series of Saturday classes for children, where members of Life Yard and others wanting to give back, teach various skills that can be used to earn a living.

The lessons include drumming, piano, embroidery, sewing, jewellery making, and farming.

"Tourists that come here see the items that the youth make, and when they hear it was made by a child, they love that and buy it and the money goes right back to the child," Morgan explained.

Krista Franklin, a clothing designer who started teaching sewing and embroidery at Life Yard in September 2016, said she was able to launch her career with her skill, and she wants to share the knowledge.

"I also plan to introduce painting, dancing, and every skill that we can possibly find to teach and then show them how to make money from it, because I believe in teaching someone how to fish as opposed to handing them a fish" she shared.

Every Saturday, more than a dozen girls and boys flock Life Yard, eager to learn.

Among them is 11-year-old Nyala Kerr, who loves the challenge of the classes. Her father, Nicumma Kerr, told THE STAR that he is proud of her progress.

"It's great, because them a get a rich experience from early out. It's more than just crocheting, it's building them and it keeps them out of trouble," he shared.

In addition, Life Yard hosts free movie nights on Sundays, at different business places in the community. It is aimed at generating support for community-based businesses.

They also operate South Side Eye TV, which films and photographs content about the community.

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