50 at-risk boys get cadet training

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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MORE than 50 young men, once deemed at-risk due to behavioural problems, are today transformed and on course to a more promising future.

The youngsters, from the St Catherine communities of Tawes Meadows and Ellerslie Gardens, have benefited from cadet training, undertaken through a $250,000 grant from the Community Safety and Security Branch (CSSB) of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), with support from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID).

Kareeme Morrison, community action officer for the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) -- which helped with the implementation of the project -- says that the initiative was conceptualised by the Tawes Meadow Parenting Group, which had long wanted to start a cadet corps in the community.

The desire, she says, stemmed from "serious behavioural deficiencies, especially among young males in the community."

The group decided to partner with the adjoining Ellerslie Gardens community in submitting a proposal to the CSSB for funding to undertake the cadet programme, and also address the issue of parenting in the areas.

Morrison says the six-week project, which came to an end on August 26, targeted young men ages 10 to 17 years, most of whom are either high school students or dropouts, and "have serious behavioural issues".

Some 25 young men from each community were engaged during the sessions conducted by officers from the JCF and Royal Mission Cadet Corps.

"They were exposed to timeliness, neatness, capacity building, life skills training, personal development and etiquette, which the JCF and Royal Mission Cadet Corps insisted that they have," Morrison says.

He says that in the initial stages there were some disciplinary issues as trainees had difficulty in meeting the requirements of proper dress and punctuality. He notes, however, that over time, the boys soon became "interested and enthused."

Morrison adds that the boys were transformed by the training. "The community looks at the boys differently and the parents see their children in a new light," he says. At the end of the training they were inducted as cadets.

Participant Omaro Hastings says that the training was good for him. "It was a bit rough, but I made it. My mother is proud of me and I am happy for that. I learned how to stand at attention, squat, and was further exposed to structure and discipline," he says.

Parent Trainer with CSJP, Yvonne Campbell, says the parenting aspect of the project was also successful.

During the sessions, parents were trained in areas of discipline, responsibility, leadership roles, and positive parenting, and were sensitised about issues relating to the care and protection of children, including the Child Care and Protection Act.

They were also encouraged to perform skits to identify the flaws in parenting styles.

Campbell notes that at first the parents were "very resistant and difficult, but after a few sessions they started to respond favourably and they wanted to know more. Often, they would stay beyond the time allotted... I was encouraged and I am confident that if we continue the programme, communities will benefit
and will be transformed,"
she says.

"After one session a parent said to me, 'Bwoy, mi wish mi did know dis a long time because a jus tonight mi seh some bad things to my child and mi haffi go see if mi can apologise'. I encouraged that apology because although you are a parent, you have to find a way to apologise to your child," she shares.

Programme Coordinator, Barbara Smith says that the project helped both communities.

"At the end of the project, persons have been asking 'what will happen now', so that means it had an impact and they wish for it to continue. I am happy that CSJP has an intention to continue the project,"

-- JIS

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