SO impressive is the template for the Rotary Club of Kingston's BACK2LIFE rehabilitation programme that the Rotary International District Governor for District 7020, Vance Victor Lewis — who is in charge of Rotary Clubs in 10 countries in the Caribbean — has decided to recommend the replication of the project throughout the countries he now serves.
During a tour of the Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre, Spanish Town, on Friday, September 14, with both the Minister of Youth & Culture, Lisa Hanna and the Minister of National Security, Peter Bunting, Lewis said the concerns of crime and violence among young people in Jamaica were common throughout the Caribbean region.
Joining them on the tour were: Commissioner of Corrections, Lieutenant Colonel Sean Prendergast; Superintendent Barrington James of the Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre; Manley Nicholson, President of the Rotary Club of Kingston; Rotary District 7020 District Administrator, Monica Ramgeet and Project Manager for BACK2LIFE, Lorna Phillips.
Under the $28-million BACK2LIFE programme, which was conceptualised by the new president of the Rotary Club of Kingston, Manley Nicholson and his team, the Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre was selected for the pilot programme.
"The programme is intended to equip the 93 young male offenders — aged 13 to 17 — housed at the Rio Cobre Correctional Centre, with life skills, while re-orienting them away from anti-social and destructive behaviour. So we are seeking to ensure that the project will be continued even when I am out of office," said Nicholson.
Project manager, Lorna Phillips, said 15 volunteers — including Rotarians and members of civil society — have already undergone training in readiness for the mentorship aspect of the programme which is set to begin at the Rio Cobre Juvenile Centre at the end of September.
"The volunteers will visit the Centre four hours a month and have 'conversations' with the children with a view to supporting the other elements of the BACK2LIFE programme and the existing rehabilitation programmes, such as the academic and life skills training they currently receive, or to just talk through issues," Phillips said.
In addition, there is also one Life Coach who currently visits the centre twice a week on an average of eight hours to discuss each child's goals.
"Such an intervention will continue throughout the duration of the project," Phillips explained.
The main partner of the Rotary Club of Kingston's BACK2LIFE project is Children First, headed by Claudette Pious, who currently visits the Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre on a regular basis to address such areas as anger management, self-awareness, relationship building and conflict resolution.