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Child and Youth Development Volunteer Program in Jamaica - St Mary

Child and Youth Development Volunteer Program in Jamaica - St Mary

Inspired to make a difference as a Child and Youth Development volunteer in Jamaica? International Volunteer HQ’s Child and Youth Development project is a fantastic opportunity to make a difference in a country that stigmatizes mental health and faces many challenges associated with poverty. Volunteers with suitable training and experience can help students deal with mental health issues and promote long-term wellness practices while encouraging emotional wellbeing and helping breakdown stereotypes.

Highlights:
  • Programs start every first and third Monday of the month
  • Affordable fees from £435 for 1 week
  • Includes accommodation, daily breakfast, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Help young people with mental health, emotions and social challenges

  • Explore Jamaica’s stunning natural environment

  • Stay in a volunteer house near James Bond Beach in St Mary

Key information

Provide support for marginalized youth
Based in schools in St Mary
Dormitory-style volunteer house
Volunteers aged 18+
Fully hosted experience from £435 for 1 week
Durations from 1 - 4 weeks
Blue Hole and other add-on tours available
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Volunteers with the desire to make a meaningful contribution to the lives of young people in Jamaica. You’ll need to have at least one year of relevant study or experience in psychology, social work, education or international development.
Who is this program suited to?

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

It’s well documented that poverty, dysfunctional family structures and other social challenges can have a long term impact on the development of young people. With limited resources, time and knowledge there can be little or no support for children and young people who have these kinds of day-to-day stresses, leading to poor emotional wellbeing. This is often the case in disadvantaged communities in Jamaica. The Child and Youth Development project seeks to equip children with the skills to understand, cope with and improve their emotional and physical intelligence and resilience.

As a Child and Youth Development volunteer in Jamaica, you’ll engage students in conversations about wellbeing, encouraging them to talk about feelings in a way that helps them to understand their own emotions. While you help break down the stigma surrounding mental health you will develop your practical skills in group management, facilitation and also your reflective skills about your own role and personal development.

While volunteer work on this project will vary with the needs of the community, you can expect to be:

  • Creating and delivering workshops
  • Offering one-on-one support to students
  • Helping with mental health issues
  • Promoting long-term wellness practices
  • Supporting young people with learning needs
  • Facilitating health workshops
  • Managing behaviour and conflict situations
  • Supporting young people to express emotions

Please note that during school exams and holidays (early January, April, July - August, and late December), this project closes temporarily. Volunteers will need to choose another project to support if you can only travel in these times.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Good mental and physical health is key to sustainable development and building healthy and happy communities. Now more than ever, we must increase access to free healthcare and health education across the globe to achieve an acceptable standard of living and wellbeing for all.

Why do Child and Youth Development volunteering in St Mary with IVHQ?

When you volunteer in Child and Youth Development in Jamaica you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Improving mental and emotional wellbeing for young people
  • Destigmatizing mental health
  • Helping students develop life skills in a safe place
  • Developing your communication, group management and facilitation skills
  • Reflecting own your own practice and role
  • Gaining experience working with children and teenagers
  • Immersing yourself in Jamaican culture
  • Discovering the beautiful beaches of Ochos Rios

Volunteer requirements

  • To join the Child and Youth Development project in Jamaica, volunteers need to have at least one year of relevant experience or study in psychology, social work, education or international development.
  • Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate in this program. If you are under the age of 18, IVHQ offers alternative volunteer opportunities for teens. Visit our High School Volunteer Abroad page to learn more.
  • All volunteers are required to speak fluent English, have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ before departure.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

HS
Holly Shelton
19 Feb 2024

I gained a lot of perspective on the local culture of Jamaica as a developing country. It was very enlightening to be immersed into the local culture, I definitely learned a lot of new things! Most people do not value their animals the same way we do in Canada which was very eye opening, the vet team that we worked with tried their very best to help every animal in need with the limited supplies and knowledge they had at hand. It was very inspiring to see all of their efforts!

...
AB
Alisa Brace
13 Feb 2024

Being immersed in the culture of the country and going through our days as a local was a huge piece of the experience that I will keep with me forever! I was terrified to be a solo, female traveler arriving in a country where I knew no one and didn't understand how everything worked but the team was so great that integrating into the day-to-day here was easy. You gain so much independence from doing a project like this and really allowing yourself to live like a local. This also creates a unique relationship between you and the locals. They begin to recognize you, look out for you, and are always so excited to see you during your days of volunteering. To anyone who is hesitant about going, take the leap of faith! It is a safe, and meaningful experience you will take with you for the rest of your life and you'll have so much support along the way. I was so nervous to go and almost backed out the morning of my flight but because of the positive impact this trip made, I'm already looking at which one I can apply for next!

...
KH
Karin Hiltbrand
20 Dec 2023

What an incredible trip to Jamaica! I reflect back on it often. As a solo female traveler looking for a 30th birthday adventure, my trip could not have been more perfect. I was terrified to travel internationally alone, but I have since booked another week through IVHQ for 2024. I plan to make an IVHQ project an annual vacation - an affordable way to travel the world solo and make an impact! IVHQ does a fantastic job of making sure volunteers are prepared both before and during the adventure.

...
GM
Georgiana Mogos
09 May 2023

This volunteer experience gave me purpose and meaning. I couldn’t pinpoint just one moment as every minute of every day was a favourite. I loved meeting new people, volunteering in schools where I was welcomed with the biggest smiles. I enjoyed Jamaican Day where we cooked and danced. I loved the local community in Albany where I met extraordinary people, had a great time with the kids playing indoors and outdoor activities. My heart felt full and I wished I could’ve stayed longer.

For anyone still hesitating about volunteering abroad, I'd say just feel the fear and do it anyway. Get all the information needed to make sure it’s a safe trip but do not hesitate to take that first step.

...
SS
Sonia Swain
02 Feb 2023

The project I did at the school was so warm friendly, welcoming and made me feel a sense of belonging. The children were so accepting and staff and parents made me feel I was a part of their team. It was an experience I hope will never leave me. Do it, you wont regret it.

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JS
Joe Shanks
08 Sep 2020

I volunteered in Jamaica for 6 weeks before the pandemic and it was an experience I’ll never forget. Before going I was really nervous since I had never been away from my family that long, but I just went with an open mind and no expectations, and absolutely loved it. All the staff are really helpful and do their best to make everyone feel at home. Shout-out to Jade and Miss Fay. I would happily go back in the future to see everyone again.

...

To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

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Volunteer Abroad in Jamaica with IVHQ

Location

On the world stage, Jamaica is the star of the Caribbean. Home to the Rastafarian religion and culture, reggae music and known for its sporting efforts, it also boasts dazzling beaches, plentiful wildlife and being the backdrop for many James Bond films. It has long been a popular tourist destination. But despite all of this, Jamaica has a history of slavery, unemployment and slow economic development that are still in the process of being remedied today. Volunteers are needed to provide support for people who face the challenges of living in low-income communities and to help address socioeconomic inequalities so this island nation can continue to grow and prosper.

Tucked up on the stunning north-eastern coast is the parish of St Mary where IVHQ’s Jamaica program is based. Volunteer projects are located in St Ann and St Mary, within 10 to 50 minutes from the volunteer accommodation and close to the port town of Ocho Rios, which is a resort and cruise ship harbor and has plenty of restaurants and craft markets which volunteers can explore in their free time.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of each month and volunteers need to arrive in Jamaica on the Sunday before orientation.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Sangster International Airport (MBJ) which is the closest airport to the volunteer accommodation. Airport pick up is provided on Sundays only.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and taken to the volunteer accommodation in St Mary (around 1.5 - 2 hours away). Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.

If you are travelling in Jamaica prior to your volunteer program, you will need to liaise with the local team to arrange a pick up from your location, or make your own way to the volunteer accommodation.

Orientation is provided by our Jamaica team at the volunteer accommodation. Orientation begins at 9:00 AM Monday morning and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Jamaica – an introduction to Jamaica, Jamaican customs, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Jamaica, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socialising.

Volunteer schedule example

First day

You will be taken to your placement by a local team member and introduced to the placement staff.

Weekdays

You may have a morning or afternoon shift, or both, and can expect to work a minimum of 3 hours, Monday through Friday. Start time and daily workload depends on your chosen project. A typical daily schedule would be as follows:

7:30 AM Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
8:00 AM Travel to placement to join local placement staff and begin work on your project.
12:00 PM Break for lunch.
1:00 PM Work at the placement commences if you have been assigned with an afternoon shift.
3:30 PM You are free to travel back to the volunteer house to relax, visit the nearby beach, go sightseeing or do some shopping.

Weekends

With weekends free, you’ll be able to explore all that St Mary, Ochos Rios and wider Jamaica have to offer, including the country’s distinctive food, music and culture.

The area is a popular destination for resorts and cruise ships, and you can expect to discover beautiful beaches, waterfalls and art galleries within close proximity of the volunteer accommodation. Snorkeling, hiking and other adventure activities are also popular with visitors to Jamaica. You can also visit notable spots like the Firefly Estate which once belonged to Sir Henry Morgan - of Captain Morgan rum fame - and then English playwright Noel Coward; or the Castleton Botanical Gardens which are among the oldest in the western world.

The team in Jamaica also have a range of tours that you can book directly with them, either before or after you arrive in Jamaica. These include but aren’t limited to a Kingston city tour where you’ll visit the Bob Marley Museum, an eco-community and a have cultural music lesson; a Black River safari on which you cruise down the Black River and see alligators, tropical birds and mangrove trees in their natural setting; and a surf camp.

Accommodation and WiFi

You’ll stay in a dormitory-style volunteer house. Living is comfortable with electricity, running water, WiFi and western bathrooms. There is no air-conditioning in the accommodation, however fans are provided.

Bedrooms have bunk beds and you can expect to share a room with one to three other volunteers of the same gender. Low pressure showers should be expected and the water is usually not heated. You should bring your own toiletries and towels.

Meals

A basic daily breakfast of toast, spreads, tea and coffee is included and you’re free to help yourself to these each morning at the volunteer house.

For lunch and dinner, you can cook for yourself in the communal kitchen at the volunteer accommodation - this has a gas hob, oven, kettle, microwave, fridge, freezer and pantry space. Alternatively, you can buy lunch and dinner from nearby restaurants for between US$5 (approximately £4) and US$25 (approximately £20) per meal.

For volunteers who would like to have their dinners provided, a home-cooked weekly dinner plan (Monday - Friday) is available for US$79 (approximately £65) per week. You can book this via your MyIVHQ Checklist once you have registered for the Jamaica program. Vegetarians and vegans can be catered for, however not all diets can be covered. Please let your IVHQ Program Manager know about any dietary requirements you have before you book the dinner plan.

Tap water in Jamaica is generally safe to drink but please check with your accommodation host if you are unsure. We encourage you to bring a reusable water bottle to refill so you can avoid buying plastic water bottles.

Pricing

  • USD
Duration
Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
1 week £435 Equivalent to £62/day
2 weeks £767 Equivalent to £55/day
3 weeks £1071 Equivalent to £51/day
4 weeks £1356 Equivalent to £48/day
  • Accommodation
  • Daily Breakfast
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Airport pick-up
  • Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on travel and tour add-ons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately £273) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in GBP.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, some meals, public transportation to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Jamaica generally find US$400 -$500 per week to be sufficient for additional expenses.

Free-time experiences & tours in Jamaica

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in Jamaica! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ Jamaica program.

Blue Hole Excursion
Blue Hole Excursion

Spend an afternoon cliff jumping and swimming in a natural series of waterfalls and swimming holes.

£42
Green Grotto Caves & Luminous Lagoon Excursion
Green Grotto Caves & Luminous Lagoon Excursion

Tour to the historical caves of Green Grotto, once home to the first inhabitants of the island.

£89
Jamaican Cooking Class
Jamaican Cooking Class

Learn to prepare Jamaican dishes from a local expert in this 2.5 hour cooking class.

£20
Blue Hole Excursion
Blue Hole Excursion

Spend an afternoon cliff jumping and swimming in a natural series of waterfalls and swimming holes.

£42
Green Grotto Caves & Luminous Lagoon Excursion
Green Grotto Caves & Luminous Lagoon Excursion

Tour to the historical caves of Green Grotto, once home to the first inhabitants of the island.

£89
Jamaican Cooking Class
Jamaican Cooking Class

Learn to prepare Jamaican dishes from a local expert in this 2.5 hour cooking class.

£20

Check what's required to visit Jamaica

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Capital Kingston
Population 2.9 million
Languages English
Currency Jamaican Dollar (JMD)
Time zone UTC-5:00

Weather and climate

The climate in Jamaica is typical of a Caribbean climate - warm days year-round with rainy winters and dry summers. The pleasant Jamaican climate makes travel possible at any time of the year. The rainy season is generally from May to November. Average temperatures in Jamaica range between 70°F and 80°F (21°C to 28°C), with July and August being the hottest months and February the coolest.

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How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
Meet your personal volunteer travel expert
Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
Get ready to volunteer abroad, we’ll support you every step of the way!