Regional

Parents praise police summer camp for at-risk youth

BY RENAE DIXON Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, September 01, 2014    

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PARENTS who attended the closing ceremony for a two week camp hosted by the St Ann police had high praises for the organisers of the programme, which has resulted in major transformation in their children.

Nineteen boys, ranging from age 13 to 17, successfully completed the camp, receiving lessons in a number of areas, including conflict resolution, anger management and social graces.

Natasha McLean, mother of one of the participants, said her son was empowered by the experience.

"This evening I see empowerment in Travis," she said, explaining that her son had anger problems at school, both with his teachers and peers and needed counselling.

"I am proud, extraordinarily proud, to see what has happened," the mother said of the camp which has brought change in her son. "I am seeing the changes already.”

McLean expressed her gratitude to Corporal Everton Fairweather who initiated the programme in 2010 and has since worked with a team of police officers and cadet leaders to help transform the lives of at-risk youth.

Another parent, Sadequea Ferron, also had high praises for the programme.

"You played a pivotal role in our children's lives," she said, adding, "I could not have done it alone."

The mother called on parents to seek help for their children, whenever needed.

"Do not be afraid to say my child needs help," she urged.

The mother went on to encourage other parents to show love to their children, even when they make it difficult to love them.

"Don't be afraid to embrace your children. Sometimes you want to strangle them, kill them... Just be calm, hug them," she encouraged.

Superintendent of Police Dudley Scott, who was guest speaker at the ceremony, challenged parents to do more for their sons.

"I challenge you to pick up from this, capitalise on it," he said.

Superintendent Scott said if the camp organisers were able to make such a big impact in two weeks, parents who have these boys for years should be having a much bigger influence.

He called on the parents to lead by example as many children imitate the behaviour around them.

"Lead by example for these boys at risk to follow you," he stated.

He also urged the parents to meet the needs of their children to prevent them from becoming vulnerable.

"If we don't care for them, these boys will go to the extreme to satisfy these needs," he said, explaining that in the process, they may be exploited.

Children's Court Judge Icolyn Reid, who also attended the closing ceremony, advised parents to love their children.

"I see many children coming to Children's Court and when you speak to them, their parents are like aliens," she said, even as she asked parents to learn to hug their children.

"Let us stand with them so we can be proud," she added.

Over 100 boys have passed through the programme since 2010, many of whom have gone on to make positive changes.

According to Constable Brian Samuda, the programme is aimed at resocialising and empowering young men for the future.

Meanwhile, Corporal Fairweather said this year's camp was a major success.

"I am really happy, I am satisfied," he said.

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