Alphanso Spencer keeping Kingston youth engaged
Amid the crime and violence that plague Parade Gardens, Kingston, Alphanso Spencer is seeking to have a positive impact on the children of the community.
Spencer is the community coordinator in the Unity and Peace Programme, led by the global non-governmental organisation Fight for Peace. He also supervises the homework help programme for students.
"The programme that we have going on now, it started through a proposal and we realised what was some of the situations that were affecting some of the youths in our community due to COVID-19. At first we were going to do mentoring but then we realised we wouldn't reach as many persons," Spencer said.
The 33-year-old shared that he and members of both the Gold Street Police Youth Club and the community development committee walked door to door in Parade Gardens to find out how many persons had the amenities to access online school. They found that more than half of the residents had neither Internet access nor devices.
Last October, a proposal was submitted to the Inter-American Foundation and last month, he received funding to purchase 20 tablets. Also, superintendent in charge of Kingston Central police, Maldria Jones, donated 10 more. The community centre is now equipped with 30 tablets and 20 computers.
"It was very important to me [to provide this programme] because it helped out an entire household. A parent does not have to worry about taking a day off to give their kid their phone, because they also have their business to do. The kids now have a safe place, with Internet and tablets to do their schoolwork for free and all they have to do is just show up," said Spencer.
When the news team visited the community centre yesterday, students were actively engaged in classes under the watchful eyes of Spencer. Between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., students could log on to their classes and complete tasks. In the evenings, persons provide help for students preparing for the Primary Exit Profile.
Sharlene Tucker, grandmother of Nashawna Smiekle, a grade six student at Holy Family Primary and Infant School, said the programme has proven to be beneficial.
"Although we had Wi-Fi, it wasn't working properly. We had challenges, because in the house you had more than one child, and other tenants, so it more combustible for them to focus online. This really helps her out, help her to focus better. To me is like she deh a school same way, nah miss out nothing," Tucker said.
Spencer migrated to the US at a young age but has roots in Parade Gardens. Before the pandemic, he was involved with schools in Central Kingston, teaching boxing, tae kwon do, personal development sessions, and distributing food to more than 15,000 individuals.
Mark Cole, programme coordinator, said that Fight for Peace is aimed at reducing crime and violence, while assisting children to reach their full potential.
"There is also someone here to explain what they don't understand and that is an important part for us," Cole said.
Spencer has been a member of the Fight for Peace group since 2016. He told THE STAR that he has desires to extend the homework help programme, that is scheduled to end in May.
"This is my way of keeping the community engaged. You see the youths in your community doing a little better, you seeing them grow and developing from it. I want to see that," he smiled.