Young People’s Effort
YouthLinks began as a product of daydreaming. The idea was to open a youth lounge where one could sit down and relax, chat, read, watch movies or take a nap. A small library, a kitchenette and a prayer room would complete the lounge intended for relaxation, enjoyment, fellowship and meditation. Eventually, the lounge would hold informal classes on different subjects such as Bible, spirituality and some language lessons. The lounge was to be called “YouthLinks,” where young people from different walks of life could link and be linked. The IT connotation wasn’t attached yet.
God entertained the dream but with a little reminder.
There has been a long standing issue that we have not been responding comprehensively:
“What program has the commission initiated to help the out-of-school youth?”
Based on the 4th Diocesan Synod of Cebu, from November 10, 1985 to March 1, 1986, the Synod came up
with these statutes for the Cebu Archdiocesan Commission on Youth. Statute 121 states that,
The Commission on Youth shall initiate and/or strengthen developmental projects that will generate income for the unemployed youth in the Archdiocese.
He let us realize that YouthLinks should be more than just a lounge where we can brew our afternoon coffee, but a place to cook a lifetime meal for the less privileged youth.
When God gives a challenge, he directs us where to find the answer. In August 2005, a supporter of the COY informed Msgr. Arthur Navales that a company in the US was giving away used desktop computers for free exclusive of the freight expenses. Right away, we sent a letter to Mr. Jerry Tice of Space Loral Systems expressing our interest to acquire 20 units, setting aside the problem on where to get the dollars to ship these computers.
The commission sought the help of its supporters from abroad to help defray the cost of shipping the computers tagged at US $60 dollar for each package of a CPU, mouse and keyboard. Through the generosity of some immigrants in the US who are members of the Cebu Naganian Association of USA, Inc., the packages arrived in April 2006, complete with genuine software installers. Another close supporter of the COY from abroad shouldered the amount of buying 10 monitors while the remaining cost of another 10 monitors was solicited from local donors.
The equipment was ready and so was the site. The COY was able to convince Rt. Rev. Msgr. Roberto Alesna. P.A. to allow us to utilize the training rooms at the Our Lady of Sacred Heart Gym, located in the Capitol Parish, Escario St., Cebu City. The facility was formerly used as a skills training center by a non-profit organization. In fact, Msgr. Alesna gave us permission to use the sewing machines left.
The need for instructors was solved through a partnership with the Cebu City Department of Manpower Development and Placement (DMDP) during the leadership of OIC Mrs. Gina Yosores. Through the kind assistance of Mrs, Evelyn Saladaga, our YouthLinks became a satellite training center of DMDP offering Basic Computer Literacy Course, Dressmaking and Cosmetology.
Screening of the applicants wasn’t easy too. Applicants were asked to fill-out an application form and submit an endorsement from their parish priest certifying their good moral standing as well as their involvement in their parish activities. The DMDP provided us with the test material to assess the aptitude of the applicants and their level of computer literacy. To be faithful to its purpose, the COY gave preferential option to applicants with a slim chance of pursuing college and are actively serving in their parishes.
The challenge of maintaining a skills training facility finally commenced after His Eminence Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop of Cebu, blessed and officially opened the Archdiocesan YouthLinks Center on July 24, 2006. The opening was witnessed by the incoming students, donors and some media personnel.
Three months of training incorporated with regular catechism lessons ended with the Graduation Exercises of 85 students of Basic Computer Literacy at the St. Therese Chapel at the San Carlos Seminary College in Mabolo, Cebu City in October 2006. Certificates of Distinction were given to students who showed diligence and excellence during the training. Prior to their graduation, the graduates attended a recollection to prepare them spiritually in using their newly acquired skills. Hence, a recollection has always been done prior to graduation of the succeeding batches.
Youth Ongoing Formation is also given great importance in the three-month skills training development of every YouthLinks student. Thus, during 2nd & 4th Fridays of the month, all students are expected to attend Catechetical Instructions, Youth Values Formation, Self-Awareness & Leadership Training Seminars. Out-reach programs such as feeding the poor in most depressed areas, visiting centers for delinquent young people and home for the aged, and other environmental awareness programs are faithfully organized especially by the class members of advanced computer courses.
Review lessons too were conducted to prepare the graduates for competency assessment to be conducted by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) that would qualify them to work in government offices as encoders or clerks.
Dressmaking and Cosmetology courses had small turn-out of attendance. Hence, the courses were dissolved and the room had been converted into a library where the students can study and make their assignments.
YouthLinks offered additional courses such as Basic Programming and Desktop Publishing to the qualified students from the first batch. Enrollment for Basic Computer Literacy has continuously increased since our second opening in November 2006. To date, the center has already produced more than 1,300 graduates after fourteen(14) batches of students. At present, we have 60 students under training for the 15th batch, taking up PC Operations (Basic Computer Literacy), Computer Programming, Adobe Photoshop, Computer Hardware Servicing (Computer Technicians), Basic and Advanced AutoCAD.
It was the aim of DMDP that YouthLinks would slowly become an independent skills training center which would be able to provide its own set of instructors. Consequently, COY volunteers took the sub-professional licensure exam administered by TESDA enabling them to take-over as YouthLinks instructors. TESDA, under the incumbent supervision of Ms. Buenafe S. Sta. Rita, PD/Asst. Regional Director, also granted registration and accreditation of YouthLinks as a skills training and assessment center.
On October 13, 2008, our YouthLinks Center was awarded with Certificates of TVET Program Registration WTR no. 0807024099 and NTR no. 0807020100 by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Region VII. By this recent development, the youth center is now duly registered and accredited by TESDA.
YouthLinks is now operating fully as a non-stock, non-profit training center after being certified by the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 10, 2008. It is now officially called as Archdiocesan YouthLinks Training and Assessment Center, Inc. (SEC Reg. No. CN200825839).
In the future, YouthLinks will be offering more courses such as cellphone repair, and other livelihood training for the out-of-school youth. Short training on income-generating projects such as candle & soap making, floral arrangements will also be made available for the district, vicariate and parish youth coordinating councils.